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GOD’S NAME THE SINNER’S PLEA
Jeremiah 14:7. O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake.
PRAYER is both our duty and our privilege: and God often suffers trials to come upon his people, in order to stir them up to prayer, and to manifest himself to them in a more conspicuous manner as “a God that heareth prayer.” On some occasions, indeed, he has forbidden his people to intercede with him; as when he said to Moses, “Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against these idolaters, and that I may consume them.” But, in such cases, the prohibition has not been considered as absolute, but rather in a qualified sense; as intimating only, that any petitions offered under those particular circumstances could scarcely be expected to prevail; yet as implying a permission to the person to make the attempt. Certainly Moses understood it thus; for he, notwithstanding the prohibition, besought the Lord for Israel, and enforced his petitions with the most powerful pleas; and never ceased from urging his requests, till he obtained an answer of peace [Note: Exodus 32:10-14.]. The Prophet Jeremiah, in like manner, was repeatedly forbidden to intercede for Judah and Jerusalem: “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee [Note: Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14.].” Yet the prophet could not forbear; but urged his pleas with all imaginable tenderness and compassion [Note: ver. 7–9.]. He acknowledged, that the sins which had provoked God to anger were great and undeniable: but though he could find no excuse for Israel, he could find a plea in the very character of God: and therefore he entreated him to do, for his own sake, what he could not venture to ask for theirs.
In respect of outward circumstances, we at this day do not resemble the Jews; yet, as sinners, we need to make the same acknowledgments, and to offer the same pleas, as are recorded in our text.
Let us then, with a more immediate application of the passage to our own case, consider,
The sinner’s acknowledgment—
The prophet’s confession is precisely such as befits the world at large—
[Verily, their iniquities do “testify against them, even to their face [Note: Hosea 7:10.].” Their whole lives shew that they have not the fear of God before their eyes. It is impossible to see their conduct, and not feel the force of this melancholy truth [Note: Psalms 36:1.]. If it be said, that “they cannot serve the Lord;” I reply, “They will not frame their doings to turn unto the Lord [Note: Hosea 5:4-5.].” There is much which they might do, and yet will not do. They might abstain from many things which they wilfully commit; and might perform many duties which they wilfully neglect. They might put themselves into the way of receiving good to their souls, by reading the Scriptures, and other religious books, in private; by a more diligent attendance on public ordinances; and by conversation with persons capable of instructing them in the things of God. But their contempt of all religious advantages, and the determined preference given by them to the things of time and sense, clearly prove the language of their hearts to be, “Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.”]
With too great reason, also, may it be adopted, even by the best of men—
[There is doubtless an immense difference between the godly and the world at large: for whilst the world are willing slaves of sin and Satan, the godly resist to the uttermost their spiritual enemies, and maintain, on the whole, a successful warfare against them. But though “the Spirit in them lusts against the flesh, the flesh still lusts and fights against the Spirit; so that they neither do, nor can do, the things that they would [Note: Galatians 5:17.]” I would ask of all, Whether their consciences do not bear testimony, that yet there is much amiss within them; and that they have yet much to deplore, in respect of commission, and especially in sins of omission and defect? Who amongst us have not reason to confess, that, on some occasions, through impatience or inadvertence, they have been betrayed into tempers which were unbecoming their holy profession? And who, through weakness and infirmity, have not given way to sloth and negligence in the secret exercises of the closet? And who, if they compare their very best duties with the holy requirements of the Law, and the boundless obligations of the Gospel, have not reason to blush and he confounded before God? Verily, the very best amongst us may well say with the prophet, “Our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and, as for our iniquities we know them [Note: Isaiah 59:12.].”]
But are we, therefore, without hope? By no means: for, together with these acknowledgments, we are free to offer,
The sinner’s plea—
The particular request which the prophet offered is not specified: but, in accordance with the subsequent part of his address, we may suppose it to have been for the restoration of God’s favour. For this we also may ask, not indeed on that is in us, but solely for the sake of God’s honour, and for the glory of his name.
This plea is open for all—
[God’s honour is deeply involved in his dealings with us. His justice and his holiness require him to manifest his abhorrence of sin, and his indignation against it: but his mercy inclines him to receive the mourning penitent, and to pardon his transgressions, however greatly they may have been multiplied against him: and if he were to spurn from his footstool a repentant sinner, he would consider himself as acting in a way that was unbecoming his divine character. He esteems the exercise of mercy as his highest glory, and his chief delight. And, when he can find nothing in his creatures to call forth, or even to justify, his kindness towards them, he takes the motive from within his own bosom, and shews mercy towards them for his own name’s sake. It was from this motive only that he brought his people out of Egypt, and conducted them in safety to the Promised Land. “Not for any righteousness of theirs” did he display his mercy towards them [Note: Deuteronomy 9:5.] but, as he repeatedly tells them, “he wrought for his name’s sake [Note: Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 20:22.].” Seeing, then, that he has shewn such a regard for his own honour, it cannot be, but that he should be pleased when he sees a similar concern in us, and hears us urging it with him as our only plea. But that we may not found this on mere conjecture, let me refer you to an instance wherein this plea was urged exactly in the way that was most pleasing to God. On an occasion wherein God had appeared to have forsaken his people, Joshua addressed him in these memorable words: “O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies? For the Canaanites, and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name [Note: Joshua 7:8-9.]?” Here then we see, that, however much we may have provoked God to anger, and whatever reason we may have to fear that he is become our enemy, we may still approach him with this plea, and entertain a good hope that we shall find acceptance with him.]
This plea shall never be urged in vain—
[In the instance just mentioned, it was attended with good success. The Lord immediately answered Joshua, “Get thee up: wherefore liest thou upon thy face? Israel hath Sinned [Note: Joshua 7:10-11.];” and on the putting away of their sin, I will return in mercy towards them. A yet more striking instance we have in the intercession of Moses for Israel, when God had determined to consume them on account of their worshipping of the golden calf. Moses pleaded with him the oath by which he had bound himself to Abraham and his seed; and immediately “the Lord repented of the evil which he had thought to do unto them [Note: Exodus 32:9-14.].” Will not, then, the same plea be efficacious still; or rather, I should say, be, if possible, far more efficacious, now that we can plead the name of Jesus? Hear what Jesus himself has said: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it [Note: John 14:13-14.].” Here is no limitation, no exception: nay more, the very glory of God is pledged for the fulfilment of this promise, and shall be advanced in its accomplishment.]
The passage, thus opened, affords me a peculiarly fit occasion to declare,
What should be the effect of sin upon the soul—
[That it should humble us, will be universally acknowledged. But to many it appears as if it were a proper ground for dejection and despondency; and more especially when it has been committed by one who has been numbered with the Israel of God. But I would wish the terms of my text to be very particularly noticed; for in them the plea is urged in the very face of all the iniquities that had been committed: “Though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake.” Here you will see that conviction of sin is, not to keep us from God, but to bring us to him. We must on no account give way to discouragement, as though our sins were too great to be forgiven, or as though it were presumptuous in such sinners to draw nigh to God. Presumptuous it would be, if we were to seek any plea from ourselves: but it cannot be so when our plea is derived from God alone. One or two passages of Scripture will place this matter in a clear and beautiful light. David prays, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity: for it is great [Note: Psalms 25:11.].” And again, “Iniquities prevail against me: but as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away [Note: Psalms 65:3.].” Here he makes the greatness of his sins a reason for his more earnest application to God, and for his more entire affiance in him. Let us then learn a truth but little known, and a truth on which our spiritual welfare most essentially depends; namely, That sin is a just ground for humiliation, but not for discouragement. In our first conversion to God, we must come as the chief of sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in him as both able and willing to save us to the uttermost. And is there any other way for us to come to God at a subsequent period? I know of none. Whether our sins be many or few, we may come as sinners, and we must come as sinners; founding all our hopes, not on any righteousness of our own, but on the multitude of his tender mercies [Note: Psalms 51:1.]. The mercy of God is our only hope, from first to last: and though we may have changed, He changeth not: nor is the way of access to him through the Son of his love closed against us. Let me not be misunderstood, as if I meant by these observations to speak lightly of sin; for sin, indulged and unrepented of, will infallibly destroy the soul: but we must be aware of a legal spirit; and guard against the idea, that the possession of any personal worthiness entitles us to God’s favour, or that the want of it is a barrier to our acceptance with him. From first to last our hope is in Christ alone; and his name, as it is our only plea, so shall it be effectual, if it be urged in humility and faith. Let this, then, be remembered by every mourning soul, that sin is a ground of humiliation, but not of discouragement. It is not possible for us to be too deeply humbled: but, on the other hand, it is not possible to hold fast too strongly our hope and confidence in God.]
What shall surely be effectual to remove it from the soul—
[Prayer, fervent and believing prayer, shall infallibly succeed at last. Where do we find an instance of a weeping penitent spurned from the footstool of the Lord? Never, never did a repenting sinner pour out his cries in vain. Only we must remember the requisites of acceptable prayer. It must be humble and contrite. We must “acknowledge our iniquity,” and our desert of God’s judgments on account of it [Note: Jeremiah 3:12-13; Jeremiah 3:25.]. It must be fervent and persevering, like that of Daniel: “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear! for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken, and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God [Note: Daniel 9:18-19.]!” It must be offered solely in dependence on God’s promised mercies in Christ Jesus: “We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake; do not disgrace the. throne of thy glory, remember, break not thy covenant with us [Note: ver. 20, 21.].” The truth is, that God has solemnly engaged that “he will not cast out one who comes to him in his Son’s name [Note: John 6:37.];” and sooner shall “heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or tittle of his word shall fail.”]
A PATTERN FOR NATIONAL HUMILIATION [Note: For a Fast-Day—Drought, &c.]
Jeremiah 14:7-9. O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee; O the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save! Yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name: leave us not.
NATIONAL humiliation is the only mean of averting national judgments: it is that which God himself has prescribed; and to which he has often given the most signal success. The repentance, and consequent deliverance of Nineveh, a heathen nation, stands as an encouragement to all the kingdoms of the earth. The instances of God’s regard to the united supplications of his people are so numerous, that it has ever been judged expedient to appoint days for general fasting and prayer, in seasons of great calamity. Surely such an appointment was never more necessary than now! To assist you in improving this solemn occasion, we shall propose to your imitation the Jews, who, in a season of grievous drought and famine, humbled themselves before God. In the words before us, we see,
Their humble acknowledgments—
Conscious of having merited the Divine judgments, they confessed their guilt—
And may not we justly adopt their language as our own?
[“We have sinned against God” as much as any people upon earth: “our backslidings have been very many,” and “our iniquities do indeed testify against us,” Look through the land; see what profaneness everywhere abounds! — — — We have indeed professed on many solemn fast-days to repent, and turn unto the Lord; but our humiliation has not survived the day appointed for it, nor has any national reformation been visible amongst us — — — If we enter, every one of us, into our own hearts, we may see an epitome of all that is passing in the world: we may say with the Psalmist, “My heart sheweth mo the wickedness of the ungodly [Note: Psalms 36:1. Prayer-Book Translation.]” — — — What ingratitude for mercies, what impenitence under sin, what unmindfulness of God’s presence, what disregard of his word, what evil dispositions, corrupt affections, and vile propensities, may be laid to our charge! — — — Let any one say, Whether these and innumerable other sins, do not testify against him — — — We would hope that there are but few amongst us who have not resolved, and for a time endeavoured, to repent: but has not our “goodness been as the morning-cloud, or the early dew that passeth away?” Have not our “backslidings been multiplied? And could we have thought, some years ago, that we should have made so small a progress in the Divine life, or, perhaps, that we should at this day have been as far from God as ever? — — — Let us then make these acknowledgments to God with most unfeigned contrition, and lie before him in dust and ashes.]
With equal propriety also we may imitate,
Their mournful expostulations—
Nothing indeed can be more offensive to God than arrogant expostulations [Note: Isaiah 58:3.]; but nothing more acceptable than such as are presented with unfeigned humility—
Such were those with which the Jewish penitents addressed the Lord—
[The titles, by which they address the Deity, are expressive of the deepest reverence: God is indeed the hope, the only “hope of his people:” and he is their willing and all-sufficient “Saviour in the time of trouble.” Nor did they intend to question either his inclination or ability to save them; but only to say, Wilt thou be like a stranger that cares not for us; or like one, who, though mighty in himself, is yet, through perturbation of his mind, or the insuperable difficulty of the case, unable to afford succour? Similar expostulations were frequently used by David [Note: Psalms 44:23-26.]; and however they may at first sight appear expressive of too great familiarity, are indeed the genuine effusions of a contrite soul—]
Let us approach our God in terms of like import—
[To whom can we look as our “Hope,” but Jehovah? and who but he has been our “Sariour in times of trouble?” But, alas! He is at present but as “a stranger in the land, or as a mighty man that cannot save.” We have cried to him, and we are not delivered; though he has graciously interposed on some occasions, yet still we are left in deep affliction; nor can we at all divine what shall be the issue of our troubles. The greater part of us too, we fear, are no less in doubt respecting the issue of their spiritual conflicts: If they June ever cried to God, their enemies yet prevail; and it is uncertain whether they shall not finally be overwhelmed by sin and Satan. With what earnestness, then, should they look to Christ, as to “the hope set before them,” and plead with him as their Saviour in this hour of need!]
But to their expostulations let us not forget to add,
Their fervent petitions—
The penitents before us seemed conscious as well of their unworthiness as of their impotency—
Hence, both in their petitions and their pleas, they expressed their entire reliance upon God’s grace and mercy—
[Sensible, that if God forsook them, or refused his aid, they must perish, they cried, “Leave us not!” “Do thou it” which we desire: and having no goodness or worthiness of their own to plead, they entreated him “for his name’s sake,” and because of his presence with them, and his relation to them; “Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name: leave us not!”]
A more excellent pattern for our imitation we cannot find—
[What can we do as a nation, if God forsake us, or withhold his powerful interposition? In vain will our fleets and armies go forth to meet the enemy, if God be not with them, to succeed their efforts. But can we plead the superior piety of our nation? Is there any thing in the land so excellent, that we can urge it with God as a ground whereon we may expect his favour? Alas! the superior light of which we boast, and the distinguished blessings which we enjoy, have greatly aggravated our national guilt: we can therefore ask nothing but mercy, for mercy’s sake. It is true, “God is still (bleased be his name!) in the midst of us;” and while our enemies have professedly cast off their allegiance to him [Note: The time of the French Revolution.], we glory in being “called by his name.” In this view we may plead his presence with us, and his relation to us; yet not in a spirit of proud boasting, but of humble and thankful acknowledgment. And the more God is honoured in the midst of us, the more may we expect a continuance of his favour towards us.
It is almost needless to observe, that, with respect to our personal necessities, we must have no other plea than that before mentioned. He must be ignorant indeed who will presume to ground his hopes upon any merit of his own; though certainly, if we belong to God, we may plead his past mercies as a ground on which we hope for the continuance and increase of them. In this manner therefore let us approach our God; and we may rest assured that our supplications shall not go forth in vain.]
[Let this day be truly set apart for the humbling of your souls before God — — — And let the pattern now set before you be not only approved, but imitated in all its parts. There is a day coming when we shall either look back upon our present humiliation with unspeakable comfort, or regret bitterly that we trifled with God and our own souls. Defer not then this necessary work. The nation, of which you are members, demands it of you. Whatever be your judgment with respect to politics, there can be no doubt but that you have contributed to augment the guilt of the nation, and are therefore bound to deprecate the judgments that are hanging over it. The salvation of your own souls too depends on your unfeigned repentance; and the sooner you turn to God in his appointed way, the sooner will you obtain a sense of his favour, and the brighter will be your prospects in the heavenly world. Let us all then turn to Christ, as the Hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof: and however unable or unwilling to save we may have foolishly supposed him, we shall find him both “able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.”]
HOW TO PLEAD WITH GOD
Jeremiah 14:20-21. We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake; do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
“LORD, teach us to pray,” was the request of the Apostles to their Lord and Master: and may Almighty God teach us to pray, whilst we consider the passage we have just read. Here is prayer indeed, such as it becomes us all to offer; and such as we shall surely offer, if ever we be duly sensible of our state before God. It was offered by the prophet in a season of great affliction. The whole land was in the utmost distress by reason of a drought, which put a total stop to vegetation, and destroyed all the fruits of the earth: and the prophet was assured, that that distress would speedily become extreme by means of the Chaldeans, who would invade the country, and desolate Jerusalem with the sword and famine. Under these circumstances, he was commanded not to pray for the people, since the measure of their iniquities was full [Note: ver. 10, 11.], But, like Moses of old [Note: Exodus 32:10-11.], the prophet could not forbear: he first indeed warned the people of the judgments which God was about to inflict upon them [Note: ver. 15–18.], and then, in a most earnest and humble manner, pleaded with God in their behalf [Note: ver. 19–22.].
To explain this prayer of the prophet—
His acknowledgments are plain and easy to be understood—
[He confesses, as he might well do, the sins of the whole nation; as well those contracted by their ancestors, as those which they had themselves committed: and he entreats God “not to abhor them” on account of their extreme wickedness. Now this expression, whilst it marked his sense of their vileness, had particular reference to what God himself had threatened by Moses, and to what he had promised also in the event of their humbling of themselves before him [Note: Leviticus 26:10-12, with 27–30; in both of which passages especial mention is made of famine as connected with God’s abhorrence.]. Hence, in the verse before the text, the prophet asks, “Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion?”]
His pleas require some explanation—
[Being exceedingly earnest in his petitions, he offers the most powerful pleas that could possibly be urged: he entreats God to have mercy on them for his own sake, and to shew regard to the honour of his name, the glory of his administration, and the sanctity of his engagements.
The first of these pleas, the honour of God name, is frequently urged in the Holy Scriptures [Note: Joshua 7:9. Psalms 79:9-10.], and is particularly acceptable to God; who “is jealous for his holy name [Note: Ezekiel 39:25.],” and delights to sanctify it” in the sight of an ungodly world [Note: Ezekiel 36:21-23.].
The second of these pleas involves in it somewhat of greater difficulty. The words, “Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory,” are generally interpreted as importing no more than this;” ‘Do not give up the city and temple into the hands of the enemy.’ The words will undoubtedly bear this sense: for both the city and the temple are represented as God’s throne [Note: Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 17:12. See this latter in particular.]; and he threatens to give them up into the hands of his enemies to be polluted and defiled by them [Note: Ezekiel 7:21-22.]. But, if we attend to the manner in which this petition is introduced, we shall see that it is, like that which precedes, and that which follows it, a plea; in which view its sense will be, ‘Thou art our King, who art engaged to provide for and protect thy people; and if thou give up the city and the temple into the hands of our enemies, as thou hast threatened, thy government will be dishonoured; and they will say, that thou art not able to afford them the succour which thou hast promised them.’ In this view the passage exactly accords with the plea urged by Moses [Note: Numbers 14:13-16.], and with that also which Jeremiah himself has urged more fully, and in the very same connexion, in the preceding part of this chapter [Note: ver. 7–9.].
The last of these pleas reminds God of his covenant, which he cannot, and will not, break. This must doubtless refer to the covenant of grace, which God made with Abraham and with all his believing people to the end of time [Note: Galatians 3:16.]. The national covenant that was made with Moses was broken, and annulled; because all the conditions of it had been violated: but “the better covenant” which was made with God in Christ, is “ordered in all things and sure [Note: 2 Samuel 23:5.].” and by it “the promise is made sure to all the seed [Note: Romans 4:16.].” That covenant is “confirmed by the oath of Jehovah, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.].” This covenant God had engaged never to break [Note: Psalms 89:35.]; and therefore the prophet urged the inviolability of it as a motive with God to fulfil to his people, notwithstanding their unworthiness, all which of his own grace and mercy he had promised to them. In this view God himself had promised to regard his covenant [Note: Leviticus 26:41-42.]: and in this view the plea in our text may be considered as expressing what is more diffusely stated by the Prophet Isaiah [Note: Isaiah 63:15-19.].]
Having stated what may be considered as the import of the prayer, we proceed,
To point out some important lessons contained in it—
We shall confine ourselves to two;
The true nature of a sinner’s humiliation—
[Nothing can give us a more just idea of humiliation than the prophet’s expression of it in our text. It necessarily implies an ingenuous confession of our sins, and of our desert on account of them. Think of the expression, “Abhor us not:” what a sense of extreme unworthiness does it convey! Yet is it not at all too strong: we are all, both by nature and practice, exceeding vile [Note: Job 40:4.]; and ought, like Job, to “abhor ourselves in dust and ashes [Note: Job 42:6.]”. Indeed this will be the state of every one that is truly penitent: he will look upon himself as “filthy and abominable [Note: Psalms 14:3.],” and will “lothe himself for all his iniquities, and for all his abominations [Note: Ezekiel 36:31.].” Every attempt to cloke or palliate our offences argues a want of humility, and operates to the exclusion of our souls from the Divine favour. We must be like convicted lepers in our own estimation, and justify our God in whatever sentence he may denounce against us [Note: Psalms 51:4.].]
The proper grounds of a sinner’s encouragement—
[Though we may justly acknowledge the work of Divine grace in us, and may give glory to God for whatever change he may have wrought in our hearts, yet we must not regard any thing of our own as a ground for our confidence in God: we must look for all our grounds of encouragement in God alone, even in his infinite perfections, and in the covenant which he has made with us in the Son of his love. When David was overwhelmed with trouble, we are told, “he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” And this is what we are to do. In the prayer which the prophet offered, he drew all his pleasures from the honour and fidelity of his God. And what encouragement can we want, if we only contemplate God as he is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures? As a mighty Sovereign, his grace is his own, and he may grant it to whomsoever he will; yea, and his sovereignty will be the more displayed and glorified, in the communication of grace to the very chief of sinners, and in making “his grace to abound, where sin has most abounded.” The comfort to be derived from the contemplation of his love and mercy need not be stated; because that is obvious to the most inconsiderate mind. But even justice itself affords rich encouragement to a repenting sinner: for, has not an atonement been made for sin? and has not the Lord Jesus Christ discharged the debt of all those who trust in him? No doubt then, the justice of God, which has been satisfied by the ransom which his own Son has paid for us, will liberate us from our bondage, and restore us to all the privileges which his own Son has purchased for us. As he can be “a just God and yet a Saviour,” so he will be just to his own Son, in shewing mercy to us for Christ’s sake. Above all, his fidelity to his covenant-engagements leaves us no ground for fear; for never, since the foundation of the world, did one sinner perish who laid hold on his covenant, and rested in it as “all his salvation and all his desire.”]
Let me in conclusion be permitted to ask,
Have you ever pleaded with God in this manner—
[Alas! if God were now to order those who have pleaded thus with him to be sealed on their foreheads, and all the rest to be smitten dead upon the spot [Note: Ezekiel 9:1-6.], what an awful spectacle would this place exhibit! Yet such a distinction will be made in the day of judgment. Beloved Brethren, consider this: and “judge yourselves, that ye be not judged of the Lord” — — — Shall it be said, that such pleadings are not necessary? What! were they judged necessary by the prophet for the averting of temporal judgments; and shall they not be for the averting of such as are eternal? Truly they are necessary for every child of man: nor can we hope to obtain mercy with God, unless we seek him thus with our whole hearts.]
Have you ever pleaded thus with God in vain—
[Never did God turn a deaf ear to one who sought him in this manner: “Never said he to any man, Seek ye my face in vain!” If any say that they have prayed, and yet not received an answer, we reply, that either they have never pleaded in this manner the perfections and the promises of God; or, an answer has been given, but has been overlooked. God cannot refuse an answer to a broken-hearted suppliant. He may answer in a way that we do not expect; or be may delay his answer with a view to our greater good: but as he has promised to grant such petitions as are offered up in faith, so will we affirm, in the presence of the whole universe, that “every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened [Note: Matthew 7:7-8.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 14". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany