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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Jeremiah 20

Verse 9


Jeremiah 20:9. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

IF we would see the corruption of human nature in its true light, we should look at it, not merely as existing in the worst of men, but as breaking forth even in the best. A more tender-hearted and pious man than Jeremiah did not perhaps exist on earth at his day: yet, under great provocation, he breaks forth into language most unseemly, both against God and man. As to the reproachful name by which he designated his persecuting enemy, we may well suppose, that, as it was justly merited on the part of Pashur, so it was denounced only in compliance with a divine impulse: “The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magor-missabib;” which imported, that “he should be a terror to himself, and to all his friends [Note: ver. 3, 4.].” But we cannot offer any such apology for the language which he afterwards uttered, in reproaching God himself, and execrating even the day of his birth [Note: ver. 7, 14–17.]. We behold here the struggle between grace and corruption, or, as St. Paul expresses it, “the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:” and when we see how awfully an unhallowed temper prevailed over this good man, we cannot but exclaim, “Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou so regardest him?”

In the conflict that is here expressed, we behold,


The effects of discouragement on a pious soul—

Doubtless there was abundant occasion for the prophet to complain. Pashur, the chief governor in the house of the Lord during the course allotted to him in the temple, had certainly treated him with great cruelty and great indignity, “putting him into the stocks,” as a public spectacle to all. Upon this, the spirit of the prophet was roused; and he complained even against God himself, in whose service he had been subjected to this heavy trial. “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived;” or, as it is translated in the margin, “Thou hast enticed me, and I was enticed.” God had not deceived him: for he had told the prophet, in the first instance, “that all the princes, and priests, and people of the land, should fight against him.” But it is probable that the prophet had interpreted too strictly the promise with which God had encouraged him to undertake the prophetic office; namely, “They shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, to deliver thee [Note: Jeremiah 1:18-19.].” It seems that he had expected an exemption from actual suffering; whereas, the promise referred only to final victory: and, under this disappointment, he determined to “make no more mention of God, and to speak no more in his name.”

Now, somewhat of a similar spirit is apt to prevail in us, when we labour under discouragement—


In our efforts for the good of others—

[Ministers, when, after long-continued exertions, they find that, instead of benefiting others, they have only brought evil on themselves, are apt to complain, that “they have laboured in vain, and spent their strength for nought:” and, under these painful feelings, they either desert their post, or regret at least that they ever engaged in such an unprofitable employment. Moses, the meekest of the human race, greatly erred in this very way [Note: Exodus 5:22-23.] — — — As did Joshua also, after his entrance into Canaan [Note: Joshua 7:7.] — — — And in like manner, not only ministers, over their people, mourn, but parents over their children, masters over their servants, and teachers, over the poor whom they endeavour to instruct: and too often does their want of success, and a sad return of evil for good, make them weary of their labours, and ready to abandon them altogether.]


In our exertions for our own souls—

[Persons, when first “enticed” or “persuaded” to embrace the Gospel, fondly imagine that they shall go forward in the divine life with ease: but when they come to find what conflicts they have to sustain, and what slow progress they make, they are greatly discouraged, and almost ready to blame even God himself, as having disappointed their expectations. They may not go so far as to say, “There is no hope: I have loved idols, and after them will I go [Note: Jeremiah 2:25.]:” but with a mixture of querulousness and despondency, many a pious man will harbour the thought, “My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God [Note: Isaiah 40:27.].” And how enervating such an apprehension must be, it is scarcely needful for me to declare.]

But on the other hand our text exhibits,


The effect of piety on a discouraged soul—

Jeremiah attempted, for a season, to execute his rash determination: but he could not persist in his purpose: for the word of God was like a burning Are in his bones; so that he could not refrain from declaring it, as he had done before, if by any means he might at last succeed in bringing his audience to repentance. And thus will grace work in every soul, even under the deepest discouragements. It will operate,


To shame our querulous impatience—

[When David had given vent to querulous and unbelieving expressions, he corrected himself, and acknowledged that they were the fruit of his own infirmity [Note: Psalms 73:12-16; Psalms 77:7-10.]. And we also shall blush, when we look back upon the dissatisfaction which we have expressed at the small success of our efforts. What if, in relation to others, we are constrained to say, “Who hath believed our report?” It is nothing but what Prophets and Apostles have said before us. And, if we cannot benefit others to the extent we could wish, it should satisfy us that we have done what we could for them, and for the honour of our God. If He be glorified, we should be content with any thing whereby his glory may be advanced [Note: Isaiah 49:5.]. And if he delay to accomplish in us our desires, we should wait his appointed time, in meek submission to his will [Note: Habakkuk 2:3.].]


To revive our languid hopes—

[Grace will bring to our view the promises of God; not a jot or tittle of which can ever fail. It will remind us that God is the same as ever: his “arm is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy that he cannot hear.” “Against hope, it will lead us to believe in hope;” and will determine us, even “though he should slay us, yet firmly and immoveably to trust in him.”]


To resuscitate our drooping energies—

[Our hands may hang down for a time; but the operation of divine grace will raise them up again. Jeremiah was weary with forbearing, even more than he had been with executing the work that bad been assigned him. And so shall we be, if grace have its perfect work within us. Our labours, both ministerial and personal, will be renewed; that at least we may have the testimony of our own conscience, that whatever failure there be, it is not for want of exertion on our part to prevent it. God has said, “Be not weary in well-doing; for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not.” And if he be with us, we shall, in dependence on his word, go forward, “steadfast and immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.”]


Expect discouragements in every part of your duty—

[Who amongst the saints was ever exempt from them? and who is not taught to expect them? They are God’s appointed means for trying our faith and love, and for increasing every divine grace within us. If we are soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must expect conflicts, and pass through them to the attainment of the crown.]


Make them occasions of glorifying God the more—

[If we have fightings without and fears within, we must go the more earnestly to God for help, and rely the more firmly on his promised aid. Instead of sinking under discouragements of any kind, we must say to every enemy that obstructs our way, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerrubbabel thou shalt become a plain.”]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 20". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.