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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Jeremiah 5

 

 

Verses 1-31

CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the chapter. The description here of unblushing immorality and total disorganisation leads Kimchi and others to date this chapter after Josiah's times; but it is not necessary; ostentatious reform and superficial religion may be synchronous with abandoned impiety and grossest corruption. Matthew Henry boldly puts an interval of twelve years between the fourth and this chapter, two years after Josiah's death, but without argument or evidence.

2. Cotemporary Scriptures. 2Ch ; 2Ki 23:1-27; Zephaniah 1-3; and, probably, Nahum and Habakkuk.

3. National History and Cotemporary History, as chap. 3.

4. Geographical References in this chapter. Jer . "Broad places of Jerusalem," open spaces just within the gates of the city, places of concourse, the markets, &c. (See on chap. Jer 1:15). Jer 5:22. "The sand for the bound of the sea." Seas known to the sacred writers were—1. Mediterranean, situate in the middle of the then known regions of the earth, separating the three great continents Europe, Asia, and Africa; 2320 miles by 1080 at extreme measurements, 5000 feet deep at Straits of Gibraltar, inhabited by over 440 different species of fish, called the Great Sea (Num 34:6-7), Sea of the Philistines (Exo 23:31). On its shores were situate the mightiest empires of the world, Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Roman. Western boundary of Palestine. 2. Red Sea, a huge gulf of the Indian Ocean, interposed between Egypt and Arabia; 1400 miles by 150; area, about 180,000 square miles; depth, about 6000 feet; divided at northern end into Gulf of Suez, 190 miles by 20, and Gulf of Akabah, 112 by 15; between these gulfs lies the peninsula of Sinai. 3. Dead Sea, inland sea; believed originally to have been a huge basin in the channel which connected the Mediterranean and Red Sea; situate south-east of Palestine, 48 miles by 10 at extreme measurements, 300 square miles area, depth about 1300 feet, and the surface 1300 feet below level of the ocean. 4. Sea of Galilee, also called Sea of Tiberias, north-east of Palestine, 700 feet below level of Mediterranean, 12 miles by 6, depth about 700 feet.

"How pleasant to me is thy deep blue wave, O Sea of Galilee!

For the glorious One who came to save hath often stood by thee."

5. Personal Allusions. Description of the Babylonians (Jer ). "Mighty nation," called (Jer 50:23), the "hammer of the whole earth;" "ancient nation," the empire was founded by Nimrod soon after the Flood (Gen 10:8; Gen 10:10; Gen 11:4; Gen 11:9). Isaiah suggests (Jer 23:13) that the Chaldeans were a younger branch of that venerable stock, yet to earliest times their origin ia traceable, when they were one of the Cushite tribes (Dr. W. Smith), a fact proved by the relics of their language, which, as a dialect of Babylonia, was retained in use as the learned language for scientific and religious literature (Dan 1:4). Henderson states that originally they inhabited the Carduchian Mountains and the northern parts of Mesopotamia, and afterwards migrated into the Babylonian territory; "whose language" the Jews knew not, nor could understand, either because the Chaldee, though only a dialect of the Hebrew, was so different in its words and construction as to be foreign to a Jew, or (as Henderson suggests) because the people had retained their native Cushite tongue, probably the mother of the present Kurdish, a language totally different from any of Semitic origin, in close affinity with the Persic.

6. Natural History. Jer . "Lion" (see notes on Jer 2:15, Jer 4:7). "Wolf of the evenings;" formerly abundant in Palestine, now seen occasionally: character and habits described Gen 49:27. Inferior to lion in strength and to leopard in courage, yet if possible more rapacious and fierce (especially in the evening) than either (Hab 1:8); generally chooses as his prey the weaker animals, lambs and kids; his depredations destructive in the extreme, for he assails not only what his ravenous hunger craves, but every living thing he meets. He "dwells alone, shunning even his own species, except for occasional combined attack." "Leopard shall watch over cities:" predacious (Hos 13:7); swift (Hab 1:8); "has a ferocious air, a restless eye, a cruel aspect;" is very nimble in his movements, swift and subtle, gluttonous and rapacious. Homer says the leopard can never be satisfied with prey (Paxton's "Natural History").

Jer . "Vines and fig-trees." "Vines" (notes on Jer 2:21). "Fig-trees:" very abundant in Palestine (Deu 8:8); a single tree would produce 280 lbs. of figs.

Jer . "Former and latter rain" (see Critical Notes on Jer 3:3). "Weeks f harvest:" seven weeks which intervened between the feasts of Passover and Pentecost (Deu 16:9). Barley harvest began quickly after Passover; wheat, which ripens later, was reaped just before Pentecost, at which sheaves were offered (Exo 34:22). Rain never fell during those weeks (1Sa 12:17; Pro 24:1; Amo 4:7). The regularity of weather and seasons was consequent upon a special Providence and covenant promises (Deu 11:11-14). The climate and seasons are now very uncertain; for the Providence has been alienated, and the covenant withdrawn because of sin (Deu 11:17).

7. Manners and Customs. Jer . "Executeth judgment:" see Lit. Crit. below. Jer 5:5. "Broken the yoke and burst the bonds" (see notes on Jer 2:20); implement of husbandry; three Hebrew words translated yoke, מוֹט, מוֹטָה, and עוֹל: the last here. Jer 5:10. "Walls and battlements:" the old wall began on the north of Jerusalem at the tower called Hippicus, and terminated at the west cloister of the Temple: its southern direction was over the pool of Siloam to the eastern cloister of the Temple. Josephus says there were sixty towers on this wall. The city was divided into the High Town on the west, and the Low Town on the east. When David acquired possession of both, he "built the city round about, even from Millo round about" (2Sa 5:9); and "Joab repaired the rest of the city" (1Ch 11:8), i.e., the High Town; connecting the two divisions of the city together, and surrounding the whole with fortifications (Josephus Autiq. VII. iii. 2). These walls of David were strengthened and elaborated by Solomon (1Ki 3:1; 1Ki 11:27). Josephus says that Solomon "having repaired the walls of Jerusalem, made them much greater and stronger than they were before" (Ant. VIII. ii. 1); and that "the walls that encompassed Jerusalem might correspond to the dignity of the city, he both repaired them and made them higher, and built great towers upon them" (Ant VIII. vi. 1). Jer 5:16. "Quiver:" Layard's "Monuments of Nineveh" represent the enormous and powerful bows carried by the Assyrian warriors. The bowmen and cavalry formed the main strength of Chaldean armies. "Quiver" was the case in which each soldier packed and carried his arrows, and was probably slung over the shoulder. Jer 5:17. "Impoverish thy cities:" see Lit. Crit. below. Jer 5:27. "Cage full of birds: "cage," כְּלוּב, rendered in Amo 8:1, "basket," because made of wickerwork: in this birds were secured by the fowler, and the door left open as a decoy to birds which were free, who no sooner entered than the door fell.

8. Literary Criticism. Jer . "Executeth judgment:" lit. doing right; no allusion here to conduct of public judicial officers, but to general behaviour of men. "Seeketh the truth:" not verbal, but practical truthy; i.e., integrity, good-faith, truth in actions. Jer 5:3. "Upon the truth," i.e., practical truth (as in Jer 5:1); fidelity as opposed to falseness (Jer 5:2) Jer 5:4. "Therefore:" too vigorous a rendering; then, and. Jer 5:6. "Wolf of the evenings:" עֶרֶב, evening; עֲרָבָה, desert: the word here is a plural form עֲדָבוֹת. The prevailing conclusions of commentators derive this plural from, עֲדָבָה; thus, wolf of the deserts: but Gesenius gives this plural from עֶדֶב, evening; and De Wett, Hend., and Noyes retain wolf of the evenings. Jer 5:7. "How shall I pardon?" more correctly. What reason, why should I, how can I? "Though I fed them to the full:" thirty-three of De Rossi's MSS., the Sept., Vulg., Syriac, Arabic, Tayum, and many expositors, ancient and modern, retain this reading from the word וָאַשְׂבִּעַ; appealing to Jer 5:28 and Deu 32:15; Hos 13:6; Neh 9:25, as parallels; where bountifulness of earthly enjoyments issued in apostasy. But the word should be וָאַשְׁבִּע and I made them swear: the preponderance of existing MSS. supports this pointing, and most modern commentators prefer it; i.e., God made them pledge allegiance to Himself; both originally at Sinai (Exo 24:7), and recently during Josiah's reforms (2Ki 23:3; 2Ch 34:7 seq.). Jer 5:8. "Fed horses in the morning:" a difficulty with the word rendered "in the morning." This derives מַשְׁכִּים from שָכַם, to rise early in the morning. Hitzig traces the word to מָשַךְ, to draw; hence "draught horses." Ewald, altering the word to מְשִׁקִים, gives "lustful horses." But the safer and most preferable derivation of the word is from שָׁכָה, the Hiphil particle; to wander (Maurer, Keil, Umbriet, Speaker's Com.), "they rove about." Jer 5:10. "Walls and battlements:" battlements is a false rendering: tendrils, i.e., of the vine (Jer 2:21) or branches (Isa 18:5). The walls of the vineyard are to be scaled, and while the stock of the vine is to be spared, all her tendrils are to be torn or hewn off. Jer 5:12. "It is not he," i.e., not God, who has spoken of judgments; therefore the menaces were false, "wind" (Jer 5:13); or "He is not," i.e., there is no God to punish as is predicted (Psa 14:1). Jer 5:13. "Thus shall it be done unto them," or, so be it done; may the calamities they threaten come upon the prophets themselves. Jer 5:15. "A mighty nation:" the word signifies perennial, as of an ever-flowing stream, or enduring, as rocks; the same word is used of both. "An ancient nation." מֵעוֹלָם, from eternity, of immemorial antiquity. Jer 5:17. "Impoverish cities," break in pieces, batter down: "with the sword," with weapons, or by force of arms. Jer 5:28. "Yet they prosper," rather, that they may prosper, viz., the "fatherless." Jer 5:31. "Rule by their means:" lit. at their hand; Sep. and Vulg, suggest, "the priests applaud with their hands" the false prophecies of peace: the Syriac, "held their hands," i.e., strengthened and supported the false prophets. Rather, at or under their hands; the priests rule as the false prophets direct.

HOMILIES AND OUTLINES ON SECTIONS OF CHAPTER 5

Section

Jer .

A profligate people ripe for vengeance.

Section

Jer .

Forewarning despised, judgment prepared.

Section

Jer .

Solemn reasons for fearing God.

Section

Jer .

Spiritual criminality of most hideous form.

Jer . A PROFLIGATE PEOPLE RIPE FOR VENGEANCE

The facts: not an upright or godly man could be found in Jerusalem (Jer ). All were spiritually incorrigible and defiant (Jer 5:3). Excusing the poor in part, because of their spiritual ignorance, it was yet found that the rich and learned were insolently impious (Jer 5:4-5). All this necessitated direct punishment and destruction (Jer 5:6). God could discover no ground for pardon or pity in their case (Jer 5:7-8). Vengeance mast fall on them (Jer 5:9).

I. Lenient conditions of pardon (Jer ). Find a good man, and I will pardon the city! 1. Appalling corruption of society. Either: (1.) Though many esteemed themselves good and pious, God saw all to be vile. Or: (2.) If any were true and righteous he dare not openly show his religion (Isa 59:14). 2. Easy terms of mercy. God asked "ten righteous" in Sodom: but would spare Jerusalem for one! (1.) How He loved and desired to spare the city. (2.) How slow to anger and of great kindness.

II. Blasphemous show of piety. Though utterly iniquitous, the profession of religion had not been abandoned (Jer ). 1. It gratified and quieted their conscience. 2. But it incensed the God of truth (Isa 29:13; Pro 12:22).

III. Hardened resistance of God (Jer ). Their gross irreligion was not because God had not done all He could to restrain and correct them. Yet He whose "eyes are upon the truth" saw only falsity. 1. God had afflicted them in mercy; but the "stroke" awakened no penitential response. 2. God had corrected them with severity; but they resisted the design of the Lord in thus "consuming" them. Instead: 3. They fortified themselves against God and His judgments. And, 4. Deliberately refused to return to Him.

IV. Prevailing social corruption (Jer ). 1. From the lowest grade to the highest society was godless. 2. Ignorance or knowledge altered not their case; "the poor know not," &c., but "the great have known the way of the Lord;" yet from the least to the greatest every one was evil (chap. Jer 6:13). The poor blindly wander, but the rich are blasphemously wilful: but so it was, "all flesh had corrupted its way." What a catalogue of sins is here given! Jer 5:1. Total absence of integrity in public life; Jer 5:2, Hypocrisy in religion; Jer 5:3, Incorrigible hardness of heart; Jer 5:4, Degradation of the poor; Jer 5:5, Debauchery of the rich; Jer 5:7-8, Shameless idolatry and frightful immorality. Surely these had sunk to the "depths of Satan."

V. Righteous punishment threatened (Jer ). I. Its nature definitely known to God; for He fixes positive consequences to sin; not merely gives the sinner up to indefinite miseries. 2. Its severity fully determined. For "every one," therefore none shall elude it; "torn in pieces," therefore none shall outbrave it. 3. Its justice unquestionable; "because their transgressions," &c. God's dealings even with rebels are not arbitrary or extreme: He lets each transgressor mete out his own misery by the decision of merit.

VI. An insulted God avenged (Jer ). 1. Can any challenge the justice? What are "these things" to which God makes appeal? (1.) God's own children had forsaken Him (Jer 5:7). (2.) Openly identified themselves with idols. (3.) Violated His laws. (4.) Utterly polluted the homes and the city (Jer 5:7-8). 2. Can any suggest reasons of mercy? (1.) Should such vileness be tolerated? (Jer 5:7-8). (2.) Ought such falsity to be connived at? (Jer 5:1-2). (3.) Can any Divine correction avail? (Jer 5:3). (4.) Are there any who merit to be spared? (Jer 5:1; Jer 5:4-5). (5.) Is the judgment heavier than is deserved? (Jer 5:6). 3. Can any hope to evade God's vengeance? (1.) Not by subtle devices and deception (Jer 5:2-3). (2.) Yet by penitential pleading for pardon (Jer 5:1). (3.) Calvary is our sole hope.

Jer . FOREWARNING DESPISED: JUDGMENT PREPARED

Multitudes are ruined by fancying that God will not be so strict to punish iniquity as His Word forewarns (Jer ). This was Satan's first snare laid for man (Gen 3:4); and men easily fall into it still. Sinners are ready to deny a message to be from God which troubles them in, and would drive them from, their sins (Jer 5:13).

I. God disowns them (Jer ). "They are not the Lord's" (see Lit. Crit. on "battlements"), i.e., such vile outgrowths from the stock of David God will not regard as His people. 1. They acted deceitfully with God (Jer 5:11). 2. They talked defiantly against God (Jer 5:12-13), showing—(1.) An absence of reverence or regard for God Himself,—"it is not He," rather "He is not" (see Lit. Crit.); (2.) Utter heedlessness of God's Word,—mere "wind" (Jer 5:13); 3. They wickedly menaced God's messenger (Jer 5:13),—"Thus shall it be done," &c. This filled up the measure of their iniquity (Mat 23:30-33). Thus had they ruthlessly broken every link that united them with the Lord, and defaced every feature which identified them with Him and His true people. "Now, if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom 8:9). "I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat 7:23).

II. God dooms them. Jehovah speaks, and there is a dreadful "wherefore" determining His utterance; it is a deliverance of Judah to wrath. 1. The threatenings they derided shall devour them as fire (Jer ), burn within their consciences and memories,—the fire never to be quenched: an inward terror at the wrath of God should consume them as wood, burning up their complacency, their fearlessness, their hopes, their delusions. 2. The foe they disregarded should waste and ruin them. (1.) Protection and defences should fail; "walls" scaled (Jer 5:10), "fenced cities" destroyed (Jer 5:17). (2.) A scourging a lversary should desolate them; God would bring it, for He commands nations to do His will (Jer 5:15). (a.) Dreadful in itself (Jer 5:15); (b.) terrible in war (Jer 5:16); (c.) wasting the country (Jer 5:17); (d.) destroying the cities (Jer 5:17); (e.) implacable in slaughter (Jer 5:6).

III. God deserts them (Jer ). As they had deserted Him. "With what measure ye mete," &c. 1. Sinners dare to challenge the justice of God in their overthrow (Jer 5:19, comp. Mat 25:44). 2. God justifies His dealings with transgressors (Jer 5:19); their punishment corresponds to their sin: having "served strange gods" wilfully, they shall "serve strangers" compulsorily. Yet, 3. God limits the severity of their punishment (Jer 5:18), for His promises must be fulfilled to Judah, and His mercy must be illustrated before the world as well as His justice; and the enemy whom God employs to punish shal see that God gives not the sceptre into his hand. God is the Supreme King; His sceptre rules over mighty nations (Jer 5:15), and is stretched over even the guiltiest sinners (Jer 5:18), that their repentance might lead to their redemption.

Jer . SOLEMN REASONS FOR FEARING THE LORD.

First: Argument from God's government of the sea (Jer ). Preliminary remarks: 1. God, the author and governor of the sea, "placed sand for bound of the sea." 2. God binds the sea within limits of law, "by perpetual decree." 3. God's laws are permanent in their control. 4. God is ever present in His laws and contrivances: "Tremble at My presence which placed the sand," &c. 5. God's presence in His all-pervading laws should have a restraining and reverencing influence upon men: "Fear ye not me? saith the Lord," &c.

I. God's government of the sea. 1. His government of the sea is suited to impress man with an idea of infinite power. 2. To impress man with the idea of consummate Wisdom 3. Of special goodness. Twofold: (a.) negatively, in checking the threatening invasion of the sea; (b.) affirmatively, in giving rain, &c. (Jer ). Its obedience is a matter of necessity: waves may "toss themselves," but God absolutely controls. Its voice to man is, "Fear Him, obey His commands, willingly bend to His will, ere He crush thee."

II. Man's revolting tendencies. 1. God has prescribed the bounds of man's actions and thoughts by befitting laws. As the sea has "bounds," so there are limits to every finite being. 2. To overstep these limits is rebellion against the Great Lawgiver. 3. Man has revolted (Jer ), differing in this from the sea. (Nature protests and remonstrates against human lawlessness.) 4. Man can do what the sea can not: (a.) man has "a heart," the sea has not; a will-power; (b.) this power in man has been prostituted to evil: "rebellious heart." CON.: 1. God must govern heart and will by Heart and Will influences. 2. It is easier for God to rule oceans than man, because "he has a rebellious heart." 3. Man, as a rebel, contrasts unfavourably with the material creation, and God notices it with painful emotion: "Fear ye not Me?" &c.—Homilist.

Second: Argument from God's bestowment of the harvest (Jer ). The history of Judah in Jeremiah's time shows His dealings with a sinful and impenitent nation, and offers awful warnings of the fate of such as resist His grace. despise His long-suffering, and harden themselves against His loving correction. 1. What befell the Jews may befall any nation whose offences against God are equally great and grievous. 2. The sins which provoked the indignation of Heaven may be learned. (a.) Idolatry and worship of false gods (Jer 5:19). (b.) Habitual and impious perjury (Jer 5:2). (c.) Scandalous uncleanness (Jer 5:7). (d.) Covetous and oppressive to the poor (Jer 5:26). (e.) Destitute of a habitual sense of God's presence and power in the ordinary and natural dispensations of His mercy and Providence (Jer 5:24).

I. Until the Gospel was communicated to the world, attentive observance of the dispensation of Providence was the principal means whereby God's Spirit drew the Gentiles to Himself, and led them to piety and obedience. 1. It was the religion of Nature. Paul attested this at Lystra (Act ), and urged it upon the Romans (Rom 1:19-20). 2. From God's works alone, His being, power, mercy, may be fully and satisfactorily proved, even without the advantages of revelation: they show design; they attest a Creator, and an all-wise Author; while "visible things," night and day, witness of the Most High, His greatness and His goodness. All His works appeal to us: "Let us now fear the Lord."

II. Although we enjoy the full light of the glorious Gospel, we can never too closely keep in mind the fact that all things we see and enjoy are ordained by God. 1. We have less need than the heathen to learn about God from His outward and visible works; yet, 2. We are beholden to His Providence for all essential natural blessings. 3. Nothing in nature could reach maturity but for the fatherly care of God. Thus learning our total dependence on God, three consequences will follow: (1.) A perfect resignation to His will and trust in His mercy. He who has not withheld His own Son from our spiritual necessity, will not deny us anything needful to us. (2.) We must not pride ourselves in our worldly goods as if they were our own, nor set our hearts upon them as if sure of keeping them for ever. (3.) As God gives us all things, there is only one way of obtaining in this world whatever is needful and good for us, i.e., constantly make known our wants to Him in prayer.

III. From the natural events around us we may learn: 1. Diligence in our spiritual concerns, that the Word of Life may ripen in our hearts. 2. Pray that the Heavenly Sower will not pass us by in barrenness. 3. When observing the tender blade, reflect on the weakness of our advance in piety, and entreat Him who tempers all the elements to "work all things together for our good." 4. When the harvest hour is nigh, let us think how short our time is, and pray that we may not be found blasted or unfruitful.—Arranged from Sermon by Bishop Reginald Heber. Dated A.D. 1838.

Jer . SPIRITUAL CRIMINALITY OF MOST HIDEOUS FORM

Guilt has its climax: sinners see it not as a "wonder and a horror" (Jer ), because they descend by gradual stages to the utmost depths of defilement, and grow accustomed to the horrible distortion of the life and affections; moreover, as they sink into the loathsome depths, their perception becomes darkened, and sensibilities grow sottish (Jer 5:21). Else sinners would be horrified at themselves. But the spectacle of man distorted and debased is a "wonderful and a horrible thing" to the good and to God; "wonderful," that man can sink to such depths, considering what he was and might become; "horrible," that so fair a creature could become so foul, that God's people can be rendered so hideously the children of the devil.

I. The predacious cruelty of the wicked (Jer ). Devoid of honourable feeling, they will wrong any one so as to advance themselves. 1. Malicious. 2. Cunning. 3. Treacherous. They who trust the wicked walk into swamps, follow a ghastly shadow, tread the ways to hell.

II. The gains of guilt and oppression (Jer ). Men of no conscience or restraints can prosper and aggrandise themselves more easily than the good; nor wonder: earth is their heaven; "in life they have their good things;" the god of this world feeds their sensual souls; but woe follows all. 1. Society accords place and power to the successful; "become great." 2. Wealth is within the reach of the scheming and extortionate; "waxen rich." 3. Self-indulgence and luxury become their rule; "waxen fat, and shine." 4. They may be pitied who are in their power (Jer 5:28); for avarice and oppression have rendered them heartless and selfish, dead to all sense of justice, or compassion for the suffering and injured.

III. The horrifying extremes of sin. To what it will grow. 1. The social leaders surpass all ordinary bounds of wickedness (Jer ); i.e., they cast off all restraint; "fear not God, nor regard men;" use their power and wealth for grossest tyranny and foulest immorality (Jer 5:8). 2. The religious leaders beguile the people with impostures; "prophets and priests" combine to decoy and destroy souls. Awful when spiritual guides plot their people's ruin! 3. The godless nation luxuriates in delusions. Enjoy the deceptions; abandon themselves to licentiousness and vileness; cast off Jehovah and make gods of their own gratifications and lusts. Such a scene is only fit for the "blackness of darkness."

IV. The fearful issues of all. 1. There comes an "end thereof" (Jer ). 2. Sinners would then gladly "do" anything to escape. 3. The terrible reckoning will surely come (Jer 5:29). God Himself will comfort them: "visit them." Vengeance will break forth on such transgressors. There will be bitterness and woe at "the end," without amelioration or redemption.

HOMILIES AND COMMENTS ON VERSES OF CHAPTER 5

Jer . Theme: A CITY SAVED FOR ONE GOOD MAN.

There were good men at this time in Jerusalem: king Josiah, Baruch the scribe, Zephaniah the prophet; but the righteous were driven into seclusion by the public immorality and hostility, so that in "the streets and broad places" not one could be found. Note: There may be holy men praying and weeping in secret, though none in the highways: they may be forced to retreat from places of power and publicity, yet "God knoweth them that are His." The prophet appeals to the people to find one good man among and of themselves. (Addenda on Jer , "Streets of Jerusalem," "Seek a man.")

Great truths suggested:—

I. Doom suspended while a Saviour is sought. God arrests the sword while the search is everywhere diligently prosecuted.

1. The high value of one good life: in God's esteem; in a nation's experience. Evils are thereby averted from many who neither appreciate nor recognise their benefactor. "Ye are the salt of the earth." (Addenda, Jer , "One true man would avert woe.")

2. The saving mission of a holy man. One man of prayer may call down mercy on numbers: one zealous Christian may snatch hundreds as brands from the burning. The lone missionary among heathen. The earnest preacher of Jesus among a congregation. The diligent worker for Christ in society.

3. The sublime fulfilment of this in Jesus. Then there was "One Man" in the city. We "can find a Man," for whose sake God "will pardon." But as yet Christ had not come.

II. Doom necessitated because no Saviour could be found. There was not one good man to hold the gap against the foe. What a dreadful state of society; how utterly and hopelessly corrupt. Equally true in God's sight, "whose eyes are upon the truth" (Jer ), that "there is none righteous, no not one." Nowhere from among men could a sinless saviour be found.

1. The Christless sinner's perplexity. He can discover no Saviour. The agonising devices of heathenism show this. The terror of men who have sought hope apart from the Gospel attests the same fact. The plaintive lament of the restless soul, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" confirms the truth. There is "no man," and therefore "no pardon," till Jesus is found.

2. The perilous state of humanity. The sword was unsheathed against Jerusalem: wrath is declared against all mankind, "for that all have sinned." The cry appropriate to all is, "Lord, save, we perish!" Dire and awful is the nearing doom (Jer ; comp. Rom 2:9; Rev 9:14-17).

3. The effectual resources of God. Not for Jerusalem, but for humanity, God found a Saviour. She "knew not the day of her visitation" (Isa ; Isa 19:20; Job 33:24). The very depths of human sin, and absence of even one true man among men, forms only the dark background to throw out into greater distinctness and beauty the perfections of Jesus (Psa 45:2; Heb 7:26).

Comments: "The wicked world has in the pious and believing a noble treasure and defence."—Lange.

"See how ready God is to forgive, how swift to show mercy. So pleasing would it be to God to find any such, that for their sakes He would pardon the city; if there were but ten righteous men in Sodom, if but one of a thousand, of ten thousand in Jerusalem, it should be spared."—M. Henry.

Sodom could not be destroyed while one righteous man was in it (Gen ; Gen 19:16); and Zoar was spared by the sole worth of that same one man (Jer 5:20-22).

Jer . Theme: PIOUS SPEECH CLOAKING AN IMPIOUS SOUL.

Comments: "Though they make an outward and fashionable profession of the name of the Lord in worshipping Him, in swearing by Him, yet it is but in falsehood and hypocrisy."—Bishop Hall.

"As the Lord liveth:" the common form of oath among the Jews; yet this sacred oath used only to deceive and defraud.—Wogan.

"They swear falsely," that is (1.) They are not sincere in the profession they make to God, but are false to Him. (2.) Though they appeal to no other God, they make no conscience of calling Jehovah to witnss to a lie. They do not swear by idols, yet they forswear themselves; which is an affront to the God of truth, as swearing by idols would have been an affront to the only true God.—M. Henry.

Jer . THE VIRTUE FOR WHICH GOD'S EYES SEARCH. "Eyes upon truth:" comp. Psa 51:6; Joh 4:23. Eyes upon an object denote (i.) diligent inspection; nothing escapes; (ii.) delicate perception; the least is not lost to sight, though but as a grain of mustard-seed; (iii.) desirous expectation; so anxious to find the grace He loves.

Naegelsbach renders the words: "Lord, thine eyes look for faith;" and remarks (a.) The Lord seeks it, for He regards it. (b.) He sought by manifold chastisements to bring the people to it, but in vain. And asks, Why does God impose faith as the only condition of salvation? (i.) Because faith gives the greatest glory to God. (ii.) Because it is at the same time the easiest and most difficult exercise of the human heart. For (a.) to believe, i.e., to accept God's grace as a free gift, every one is, and must be, able to do. (b.) He who can do it has vanquished himself at the one point, and won all.

"God looks to the faith, the upright purpose of the heart, and without it the nominal fealty of an oath is an abomination."—Speaker's Com.

Jer . Theme: GOD'S CHASTISEMENTS DESIGNED FOR MAN'S CONVERSION.

Here is only a complaint of the misimprovement of afflictions, yet the right use is indicated: they should have "grieved" for their undutifulness to God, and with relentings for sin they should have "received correction;" submitted to the rod as to the chastisement of a Father, without sullen murmuring or fainting; their "faces" should have been flushed with ingenuous shame, and washed with penitential tears: they ought immediately to have "returned to God." Hence ingenuous sorrow, shame, and repentance, a submissive, corrigible temper, and a sincere conversion to God, are the designed ends of the afflictions He sends upon impenitent sinners.

The Gospel is preached, Holy Spirit communicated, to arouse consciences. When Word disregarded, conscience slighted, Spirit resisted, then our Heavenly Father uses the rod; the one end being that we turn to the Lord. Inquire, What is it to turn to the Lord?

I. Turning to the Lord presupposes a deep conviction that you have gone astray, both from way of duty and of safety. You will never leave your present course till plainly see it leads you down to chambers of death; nor "turn to the Lord," till realise that your interests and duty render it urgent and necessary.

1. If God should open the eyes of the unconverted, what astonishing and unsuspected views would present themselves of your past course and present condition! That all your highest interests have been neglected. 2. You would see the exceeding sinfulness of sin. 3. The purity and strictness of God's law, the equity and terror of its penalty. 4. Your obligations to Him as your Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer. Oh, that experience may be your teacher of the reality of these things!

II. Turning to God supposes a full conviction of the necessity of immediate response. 1. Because if you die in your present condition you will certainly be lost. 2. Because you have no time for delay. And, 3. It will wound your heart to think this work has not been done long ago. Dying men bear testimony that the present hour is the most fit season for turning to God.

III. If afflictions should prove the means of turning you to God, they will rouse you to most earnest persevering endeavours that you may truly find Him. Pray without ceasing: "Behold, he prayeth!" Accustom yourselves to solemn meditation; hear and read God's Word. Seek the society of those who know the Lord. These will promote your conversion. Also, you will guard against whatever would hinder it; shun wicked courses; moderate your pursuits of the world; avoid evil company. "With fear and trembling" the awakened sinner would begin to "work out his salvation."

IV. If afflictions should turn you to God, you would be made deeply sensible of your inability, that the Holy Spirit's grace was essential to your true conversion. 1. Your endeavours avail to avoid hindrances and seek helps. 2. Yet your own heart is against you, and the disease of sin is irrecoverable but by Divine grace. Then the prayer will arise, "Turn me and I shall be turned" (Jer ).

V. If ever you turn to the Lord, you will realise that Christ is the only way of access to God. You will come as criminals upon the footing of grace, not merit; will renounce all your righteousness; a broken-hearted rebel. Till such, you have nothing to do with Jesus.

VI. If you are turned to God, you will experience a great change in temper and conduct. 1. Heart and mind will take a new bias; thoughts and affections towards God; aspirations towards heaven; Jesus dear to you; "all things become new." Turned to God and holiness; turned from sin and its pleasures. Also, 2. Your practices will follow the inward impulse and principle of religion.

VII. If turned to the Lord, your mind will habitually retain that turn. Your religion not a transient fit, but permanent and persevering.

Application: Do you in your consciences hope you have been converted and turned to God? Does your case answer to this description? But some of you may have discovered yourselves as unconverted. Are you willing to turn to God with all your hearts? "Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He hath torn" &c. (Hos ).—Rev. J. Davies, A.M., President of College, New Jersey, A. D. 1756.

Jer . Theme: IGNORANCE MAY EXCUSE IRRELIGION.

I. Their sad disadvantages. 1. "Poor," living in rudeness and neglect, their existence absorbed in struggles to live. 2. "Foolish," ignorant and erring from lack of training and teaching. Their intellectual life wholly neglected.

II. Their spiritual deprivations. 1. "Know not the way of the Lord;" untaught as to the manner of life He requires, the true religion He revealed. 2. "Nor the judgment of their God;" that which He had pronounced right: for false prophets confused and misled them, and they followed as those who were "blind." A pitiful case: spiritual dupes.

III. Their excusable deficiencies. God does not reap where He has not sown. To whom little is given, of them He asks little. He judges according to what we have, not what we have not (Num ). 1. God's tender consideration. 2. Discriminating commiseration. (Addenda, Jer 5:4, "Ignorance and irreligion.")

Comments:

i. Prevailing ignorance is the lamentable cause of abounding impiety and iniquity. What can come from them that sit in darkness but "works of darkness"?

ii. This is commonly a reigning sin among poor people. There are the devil's poor, as well as God's, who might "know the way of the Lord" without book-learning; but they are "willingly ignorant."—M. Henry.

Jer . Theme: KNOWLEDGE SHOULD ENSURE PIETY.

It is a dramatic contrast. The prophet assumes to imagine and expect that their advantages would be accompanied with appropriate religious responses: superior socially, superior spiritually. "The great;" i.e., the wealthy and educated, removed beyond blinding care for their daily wants; "they have known," possessed the advantages of education and religious knowledge. Yet these, instructed in the law, and who ought to teach their inferiors (Mic ), have violated every precept and been defiant of God. (i.) A buse of advantages. (ii.) Proportionate guilt. (iii.) Heavier condemnation (Luk 12:47).

"I will speak unto the great men." Zinzendorf remarks: "A preacher has no more miserable and ignorant hearers than the respectable. While they are spelling their way back to the cross, and are getting so far as to know how to learn that we are saved alone by the grace of the Lord Jesus; till we get them so far as to understand that the command of the New Testament is to believe, and all that morality can lug about for eighty years is gone with the word, ‘Son, be of good courage, thy sins are forgiven thee,' the ignorant would have been able to do it thrice. A teacher greatly deceives himself if he seeks among the respectable that comfort in his office which he does not meet with among the common people."—Quoted in Lange.

Jer . THE IGNORANCE OF THE POOR AND THE INSOLENCE OF THE GREAT.

I. The character of many of the poor as here described. Seeing them impudent in sin, and unreformed by the judgments of God, Jeremiah says, "Surely these are the poor," &c.

1. Their obstinacy in sin was owing to their ignorance—(1.) Of religion; "the way of the Lord." (2.) Of God's providences; "the judgments of our God." Ignorance is still the source of error and sin. (a.) Men misapprehend the nature of God; presume upon His mercy. (b.) Form vague and incorrect views of the salvation of Christ; ignore that it is a "doctrine according to godliness" (Eph .)

2. Their ignorance was in great measure occasioned by their poverty. (a.) This deprived them of education; uninformed as to principles and religion. (b.) All their thoughts and cares are about their worldly wants. (c.) They absent themselves from God's house because of poor attire. (d.) They associate with persons like-circumstanced and like-minded, who encourage one another in neglect of religion; and, (e.) They thereby lose all self-respect, sin impudently and "glory in their shame." Yet their ignorance was culpable; they lived in a land of light, had more advantages than the rest of the world. So with the poor in Britain, who yet live in a most stupid and lamentable ignorance as to God, their souls, and eternity.

II. The character of the great as here described. Not only men of honourable birth, large fortunes and considerable learning; but those of easy circumstances, educated, having capacity and leisure to learn Divine things.

1. They had a better knowledge of religion than the poor. Their minds cultured; kept from learning the manners of the vulgar; attained a general knowledge of the world; had some knowledge of religion—its theory; they could consequently enter into the prophet's reasoning and address.

2. They acted as bad as the poor, or worse. Like headstrong, refractory oxen, that struggle and break the yoke. Men should submit to the restraints of reason and conscience, to the authority and law of God. But though light was in their understandings, their wills were perverse and affections misplaced. They would not submit to prophets' reproofs, offered violence to reason and conscience, "broke the bands of the Lord asunder" (Psa ).

3. Their conduct was chiefly owing to their greatness. (a.) Lifted up with pride, they resented admonition. (b.) They think religion is only to restrain the vulgar, not to bind those in rank. (c.) They shrink from showing reverence for God and being exact in religious observances. (d.) Worldly things have mischievous influence upon their hearts. (e.) Flattered by others, they forget or but formally pay homage to the Most High. (f.) They mind earthly things, neglecting the culture and interests of the soul.

Christ met chief opposition from the great, learned, and rich men.

Application: 1. Learn what is the most important and profitable knowledge. 2. The advantages of being placed in the middle condition of life (Pro ). 3. What an excellent charity it is to furnish the poor with the means of knowledge. Let "the poor" know that to be wilfully ignorant is an inexcusable crime. And "the great" that they "have no cloak for their sin," if they allow their wealth to fortify themselves against God's truth and calls. "The rich and poor meet together" at death: "the small and great" shall stand before the bar of Christ in judgment.—Rev. Job Orton, A.D. 1775, Abstract.

Jer . Theme: IMPOSSIBILITY OF PARDON.

Can it be? Is it in accordance with God's dealings with man? (Comp. Isa ; Mic 7:18.)

I. Pardon is possible to chiefest sinners.

II. Yet only on the terms of repentance and return to God.

III. But, by "forsaking Him," men forsake all possibility of salvation.

"When I fed them to the full," &c. (See Literary Criticisms on verse; also Addenda to chap, 5, Jer .)

Jer . Theme: AN OUTRAGED AND AVENGING GOD (See Literary Criticisms on Jer 5:7, "I fed them to the full.")

God had bound them in oath to allegiance; yet they violated their spiritual relationship by abandoning themselves to idols; and, in following the defiling indulgences of idolatrous orgies, they had repudiated God's laws which they covenauted, at Sinai and under Josiah's reformation, to keep (Exo ; Exo 24:7; 2Ki 23:3); and thus violated the sanctity of social relationship.

I. By evil deeds of men God is outraged.

II. For evil deeds of men God will be avenged. "The harlots' houses" are preferentially and metaphorically, if not exclusively, idol temples; but the charge glides from this religious sense, viz., spiritual inconstancy to God, into the physical sense, viz., carnal uncleanness among themselves; for prostitution formed part of idolatrous worship.

Jer . Theme: A COMMISSION TO DESTROY.

How alien it is to the Divine heart to destroy is clear from Eze ; Joh 3:16. And Zion was God's beloved city, dear to His eye (Psalms 48). Yet, though slow to anger, averse from destroying, and tender towards Jerusalem, the edict goes forth. God summons the foe to waste and destroy the Holy City, and those who dwelt therein.

I. The scene depicted. A vineyard enclosed by walls (see Lit. Crit. on verse); the enemy scales them; his swords ruthlessly cut off branches, shoots, down to the very root-stem, but there his destructive work ends. Its meaning: Judah, a noble vine (Jer ), but its outgrowth had deteriorated, yielding now only sour and poisonous grapes (Deu 34:2-3). All these sinful descendants of the stock of David should perish, but the race must not become extinct.

II. The destruction commanded. Judea is God's vineyard (Isa ); none could enter except He permitted. But He calls the invader, and commissions him to use his weapon freely. What a lamentable case for that people! Not only had God withdrawn His care—a negative calamity, but He summoned the enemy to destroy—a positive calamity.

III. The reservation enjoined. The wilful destroyer was not free: limits were imposed. Our enemies are not omnipotent. God's will rules the issues of war: His mercy limits the ravages of justice. The Jews must not be exterminated; for the promise must stand (Lev ).

IV. The explanation furnished. This overthrow, this abandonment of God's people to an imperious, impious foe, is startling,—requires explanation: given, "They are not the Lord's." Yet they were outgrowths of the stock of David. 1. Ancestral privileges may be forfeited. 2. Descendants do not always retain the same piety which distinguished their forefathers. 3. Consequently the covenant of promise is annihilated. Every man stands out singly responsible to God; he cannot escape the punishment of his own sin by any ancestral relationships. The children of best of parents may come to ruin.

Jer . (See chap. Jer 3:20.) Though Judah and Israel were at variance with each other, they agreed in wronging the Lord, who had given them all the national blessings, victories and honours they ever knew. Israel had reaped the bitter fruits: O that Judah would be forewarned! Otherwise, they would be united in misery. Alike faithless, a like fate.

Jer . Theme: ALIENATION, THE ROAD TO ATHEISM. "They have belied the Lord," i.e., denied Him, Either: 1. Denied that God was such as Jeremiah described,—a punisher of evildoers; or, 2. Denied that the coming disasters were in any sense God's doing,—He has nothing to do with it, they come apart from Him; or, 3. Denied the existence of Jehovah as God, as their God,—repudiated Him, wanted to hear nothing of or from Him.

I. Moral degeneracy produces mental obscurity. Sin deadens the sensibility, excludes God from thought, until practical indifference and defiance of Him rule the life. Easy and natural, when we dislike God, to ignore Him and revolt from F is claims.

II. Mental obscurity issues in spiritual darkness. Conscience seared, past feeling, desiring not the knowledge of God's ways, till "the fool says in his heart, There is no God." And "the god of this world blinds the minds of them that believe not."

Theme: OBSTINATE UNBELIEF. i. Its nature. It denies God, and therefore despises (a.) God's Word, (b.) God's messengers. ii. Its punishment. The tables are turned. (a.) The unbeliever, before fire, now becomes wood. (b.) The Word of God, before regarded as Wood, becomes fire.—Naeg.

"The Word is not in them," rather speaker is not, &c. It is not a noun, but a verb with the article instead of the possessive pronoun; so that literally it means, And he who speaketh is not in them, i.e., there is no one who speaketh in them,—what the prophets say has no higher authority than themselves.—Speaker's Com.

Jer . Theme: GOD'S METHOD OF CONFUTING UNBELIEF. (Addenda, Jer 5:14, "My words shall devour them.")

i. Withering the intellectual vanity in the unbeliever: giving to His Word a fiery penetrating power, consuming his pride, confidence, and hopes. It may be as a "fire in his bones," destroying all peace, ravaging his conscience and heart with burning terrors.

ii. Fulfilling His Word upon the unbeliever: he finds out its truth by experiencing the doom it threatened: the fire of Divine anger descends upon him.

Note: Unbelief must and will be consumed with fire. Happy he in whom it is consumed in this life by God's Word; but, failing this, it will be consumed in the life to come by God's wrath. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all them that forget God."

Jer . Theme: WRATHFUL AGENTS OF DESTRUCTION.

God can summon them: historically He has done so; prophetically He will. This "day of salvation" intervenes. "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet 2Th . In the past He used the armies of earth; in the future He will use the "armies of heaven." "Mighty" were the Chaldeans (Jer 5:15): He will come with "mighty angels" (comp. Rev 10:1; Rev 18:21; Psa 103:20); agents of Divine wrath (Rev 16:1; 2Th 1:8; 2Ki 20:15).

I. Unmeasured resources of Divine justice. Jews knew nothing of Chaldeans (Jer ); we cannot penetrate the unknown realms, or measure the might and terrors of God's ministers (Mat 26:53).

II. Pitiable insecurity of transgressors. They make "defences," and trust in them (Jer ); but what can shut away affliction, death, the judgment?

III. Merciful interval of propitiation. Why forewarned? That we may "flee from the wrath to come" (Heb ).

Jer . Theme: A LIMIT TO JUST JUDGMENTS. Light gleams beyond the dreadful vision. Would that a word as definite could anywhere be found to encourage hope after the great judgment of the world! How contrasted with this promise for Judah are the deliberate, multiform, and emphasized threatenings of the New Testament as to the eternal fate of the rebel soul!

Jer . Theme: GOD'S EXPLANATION OF MAN'S SPIRITUAL MISERIES. The bewildering inquiry is ever rising, Why is humanity spiritually enslaved and banished? Why under alien tyranny? Why outlawed from the promised land? God answers all: Man makes his own misery; seeks his own enslavement; forfeits his rightful inheritance. And this, not because God has made man subject to sin, but despite God's remedies for man's redemption from sin. He forges his own chains, and procures his own banishment.

I. Wilful self-destruction.

1. Desertion of our only Saviour. For God was Judah's Saviour (Isa ). Even as revealed in Jesus and on Calvary, men "despise the Lord that bought them."

2. Deliberate enslavement to alien gods. Admitted "strange gods" to Jehovah's territory; then "served them." This is voluntary slavery (Rom ; 2Pe 2:19). "Thou has destroyed thyself."

II. Retribution in kind. "Answer them, Like as," &c. The penalty corresponds to the sin. 1. Forsaken. They having "forsaken" God, would be "forsaken" by God; left to the enemy and to exile. 2. Serve strangers. They had preferred strangers, foreign gods, and voluntarily bowed to them; they should perforce serve strangers, foreign rulers, and know the bitterness of alien tyranny. 3. In a land not theirs. They had introduced these strange gods into a land which was not theirs, but Jehovah's; they should be carried into a land not theirs, slaves into captivity.

Serve the spiritual usurper, rejecting Christ, you shall be "led captive at his will" into grievous exile, "a land not yours," but "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Deu ).

Jer . Theme: INDIFFERENCE. An evil ruinous to the soul: indifference to true and saving religion. How it prevails! Text exhibits it.

I. What God has done to produce pious consideration.

1. He has given powers of mind adapted to it. "Eyes," to see, discern, read, &c. "Ears," to hearken, messengers of truth. "Understanding," to know, weigh, reflect, &c.

2. He has given us the means to answer to these powers. His Word; His servants; His providence, &c. So men are excuseless.

3. His Holy Spirit to strive, convince, &c.

II. The indifference men often exhibit.

1. The indifference of some is total, without any concern. Like stocks and stones.

2. Others are considerate only of the externals of religion. They hear and see and attend, &c., to the outward, and that only.

3. The consideration of some is only to the intellectual parts of the truth. A mental study; philosophical attention; such as they give to literature.

4. The consideration of others is occasional. Under very arousing discourses, providences, sickness, bereavements, &c.

III. The consequences of this indifference.

1. It is extreemly "foolish." Moral insanity: opposite of wisdom and prudence.

2. Detrimental to the soul. Makes it "blind," "deaf;" robbing it of spiritual food and enjoyment; degrading it.

3. Specially offensive to God. Infatuated rebellion; ingratitude.

4. Must end in the soul's ruin. Now is the period of soul's probation. No moral fitness without devout consideration.

Application. 1. Examine and test yourselves. 2. Seek the quickening influences of the Divine Spirit. 3. Be resolved and wise now, lest perish.—Rev. Jabes Burns, D.D.

Jer . Theme: PERSUASIVES TO THE FEAR OF GOD. The prophet having reproved their sin and threatened God's judgments, is sent on another errand which he must "publish in Judah,"—to persuade them to fear God. This would be an effectual principle in their reformation, as its absence explained their apostasy.

I. He complains of the shameful stupidity of this people. 1. Their understandings were darkened. They possessed intellectual faculties and capacities, but did not employ and improve them (Jer ). Note: We cannot judge men by the advantages and opportunities they enjoy: sit in darkness in land of light; live in sin in holy land; bad in best of places. 2. Their wills were stubborn; not submit to rules of Divine law (Jer 5:23). Observe: The revolting heart is a rebellious one: those who withdraw from their allegiance to God do not stop there, but, by siding with Satan, take up arms against Him.

II. He ascribes this to the want of the fear of God. 1. Their being without understanding (Jer ) he accounts for by this absence of fear (Jer 5:22). If you keep up awe of God, you would be more observant of what He says. 2. Their rebellion and revolt (Jer 5:23) he explains likewise (Jer 5:24). They did not encourage the "fear of the Lord," hence apostasy. Because we neglect to stir up our hearts to holy awe of God, we are so apt to rebel.

III. He suggests some things proper to possess us with a holy fear of God.

1. We must fear the Lord and His greatness. (Jer ). Shall we not "tremble at His presence," be afraid of affronting or trifling with Him who, in nature and providence, gives such incontestable proofs of almighty power and sovereign dominion? He keeps and manages the sea! (1.) By this we see His universal sovereignty; therefore to be had in reverence. (2.) This shows how easily He could drown the world again, by withdrawing His "decree;" therefore we lie continually at His mercy, and should fear to make Him our enemy. (3.) Even the unruly waves obey Him,—neither revolt nor rebel; why then should our hearts? (Jer 5:23).

2. We must fear the Lord and His goodness (Hos ). We must "fear the Lord our God" (Jer 5:24), i.e., worship Him, give Him glory, and keep ourselves in His love. (1.) Because He is always doing us good. (2.) Because these blessings are consequent upon His promise (Gen 8:22). 3. Because we have such a necessary dependence upon Him. The fruitful seasons rendered the heathen inexcusable in their contempt of Him (Act 14:17), yet the Jews were not wrought upon to fear Him, though it appears how much it is our interest to do so.—M. Henry. (Addenda, Jer 5:22, "Sand for bound of the sea.")

On the fear of God. i. Motives from without. 1. God's displays of power (Jer ; Jer 5:24). 2. God's displays of grace. ii. Inner conditions. 1. That we open our eyes and ears (Jer 5:21.) 2. That we allow ourselves to be impelled by what we see and hear (Jer 5:23).—Naeg. in Lange. (Addenda, Jer 5:23. "Revolting heart.")

"Neither does God's power move the obdurate people to the fear of Him, nor do the proofs of His love make any impression."—Keil.

"This is a glorious discovery of the omnipotence and majesty of God. But that men are so secure, and think not of Him who allows them to live so securely, this is indeed an insane business."—Zinzendorf, quoted in Lange.

"They had the power of perception, and were responsible for the exercise of it"—Henderson.

"The sea, the mightiest of God's works, cannot prevail, cannot break His laws, because God has not endowed it with free-will. Man, physically impotent, can prevail, because, being made in God's image, he is free."—Speaker's Com.

"The appeal to God's care for man (Jer ), offers proof which addresses itself chiefly to the thoughtful; hence he says, ‘in their heart.' By the intelligent study of God's dealings, men perceive that they are not merely acts of power, but also of love."—Ibid. (Addenda, Jer 5:22, "Tremble at my presence, which made the sea.")

Jer . Theme: ADORATION OF GOD IN NATURE.

This the end of all the privileges with which Israel had been crowned from one generation to another! they had a revolting and rebellious heart. And as was the heart, so the life,—revolted and gone from their God and Father. There was to them no Lord of heaven and earth to fear for His power or love for His goodness.

i. The more blessings they enjoyed, the more thankful they should have been. Yet it seems that the more gracious our Heavenly Father, the more thoughtless are His children; the more boundless His love, the more resolute man's ingratitude.

ii. Having rejected God spiritually, He yet continued to manifest Himself to them in nature. They absolutely refused Him as the object of soul-homage and love; would have no God but idols, no king but their own wild will. Either He must altogether hide Himself, or reveal Himself no longer in grace, but in nature.

iii. Gratitude to God for the fruits of the seasons is a common ground on which to argue effectually even with the darkest heathen. Thus Paul at Lystra (Act ). No one except those who "say in their hearts there is no God," doubt God's gifts in nature's bounties.

iv. The heathen are denied excuse for their ignorance and idolatry, because of the marks of God's love and power in the world around them (Rom ).

v. Yet the heathen, in outward forms at least, surpassed Jews and Christians. Though they "felt after God" rather than reached Him, the great multitude of the heathen never denied God in His gifts. They made offerings and sacrifices in acknowledgment of harvest, and sang thanksgivings to their gods. It wanted but a little more knowledge for them to join in David's song (Psa ).

vi. There was, then, great sin on the part of Israel when, even as natural men, they ignored the mercies of God's ordinary providence, and were not softened and converted by His unmerited goodness (Jer ).

vii. A bounteous season ought to awaken love and thankfulness to God. Yet this is not the feeling of all who bear the name of Christ. Peculiar to Christians to be ashamed of confessing God as the Orderer and Giver of all things. Where heathen and Mahometans would have a manly pleasure, as a matter of course, in acknowledging the heavenly Giver, Christians falter.

viii. God is exceedingly jealous of the honour due unto His name. He plagued guilty and thankless nations. He may do the same to us (Deu ; Deu 8:10-18). Bethink that this God might call a man away in the midst of his thanklessness and unbelief! What measureless woe filled the heart of the Son of God as He thought of the curse upon sin and sinners,—self-condemned, by the hardness of their hearts, to the dwelling-place of the thankless and wicked!

ix. The eye is blind to God in natural wonders, and the ear deaf amid His works, because the heart has not embraced Him in the Gospel of His Son. We refuse to bless the Creator because we have no portion in the Redeemer. Come to Him before you are removed from the world of nature and of grace.—Arranged from Sermons by Rev. J. Garbett. (Addenda, Jer , "God, that giveth rain.")

Jer . Theme: WICKED PROFESSORS THE BANE OF THE CHURCH.

Men as atrociously wicked might be found among the people of Jehovah as among the worst of the Gentiles. They were guilty of overreaching and defrauding one another, and thus their houses were replenished with the gains of deceit. Thus in every age: thus now.

The Church in glory is pure, undefiled; not so on earth. No society of Christians is endued with the spirit of infallibility; hence tares grow with wheat.

I. God has a people on earth. "My people" (comp. Isa ; Rom 9:23-26). 1. His creation (Isa 43:21). 2. Called by Him, "from darkness to light." 3. Privileged people; pardoned, regenerated, adopted. (Comp. also Rom 2:28-29; Php 3:3; 1Pe 2:9)

II. In the Church there is an unhappy admixture of "wicked men." This truth illustrated in Lord's parables—of ten virgins, tares and wheat, net cast into sea.

God's people are not sinless, yet not allowedly "wicked" (Job ; Job 10:15). A real Christian is anxious to be right (Psa 139:23). Yet among them "wicked men" are found. This applies—

1. To those religious establishments whose constitution and discipline offer no restraints to the admission of such characters. The gate is not strait, but wide. Baptismal regeneration of infants necessitates a lax admission to communion, &c.

2. The description is applicable to mere hearers of the Gospel. They are among God's people (Eze ). Gospel preached to them in vain; Holy Ghost resisted; neglect great salvation. Is not this wicked?

3. Applicable to those who have entered the Church without real conversion. "Walk according to the course of this world, and are by nature children of wrath." Such in our religious assemblages. None in heaven.

(1.) Some professors are secretly wicked (Tit ; 1Ti 5:6). As Achan in camp of Israel, Judas among the twelve, Ananias at Jerusalem, Simon Magus in Samaria, Jezebel at Thyatira: such in all churches of saints.

(2.) Some professors are deceivers; hypocrites impose on others, and also on themselves. Say "The temple of the Lord are we," but are of the synagogue of Satan (Joh ; Rev 2:2; Rev 2:9).

4. Applicable to those wilfully inactive in the Church. They belie their profession. Where is their zeal? &c.

5. Applicable to those who interrupt the peace and harmony of the Church.

Some have entered through the gate of human excitement, of creature passion, of filthy lucre, of ambition.

III. This mixture of the wicked with the godly is a fact. "Are found," &c. By whom are they discovered?

1. Frequently by themselves (1Jn ).

2. Persecution has, and so has temptation.

3. By Christians, to whom their unholy course, &c., is a grief.

4. They are found by God (Rev ; Rev 3:22). Odious to Him.

5. Some will not be found till the day of judgment (Mat ; Mat 13:28-30).

IV. The injurious influence of the conduct of such professors.

1. They bring reproach upon religion (Rom ).

2. The hearts of the godly are grieved and their hands weakened (Jos ; Jos 7:25; 1Jn 2:7; Php 3:18).

3. The Church is in danger of being injured by them (Hos ). A little leaven will leaven the lump (1Co 5:6-8; Gal 5:9-10).

4. It frequently prevents accessions to the Church.

5. The guilt of such persons is highly aggravated, and their punishment will be awful. "Many stripes" (Isa ; Hos 10:1; Mat 11:21).

Application: 1. Self-examination. "Lord, is it I?" 2. That may be a true Church though disorderly persons are found in it. 3. How little is a mere profession of religion to be trusted in or boasted of. The goat, though folded among the sheep, is a goat still, and must finally be separated from the flock (Mat ).—Helps for the Pulpit.

Jer . Theme: DECEITS OF THE WICKED.

God retains His claim: "My people." Sees the snares (Jer ) and miseries (Jer 5:28) they endure. Estimates the evil influences to which they are exposed (Jer 5:26), and the calamities wrought by the wicked (Jer 5:27).

I. Wickedness forces itself into every society. The Church, the home.

1. By hypocritical pretensions. 2. For predacious ends. The "wicked" are active, deceptive, plotting.

II. Wickedness is intent on human ruin (Joh ; Joh 8:44).

1. Angry at goodness. 2. Reckless in mischief. 3. Envious of happiness. 4. Greedy of gain. Alas! "men" are the spoiler's prey.

III. Wickedness can boast appalling success (Jer ).

1. Evil devices prosper. 2. Evildoers aggrandise themselves. Fill their "houses" with the gains of ungodliness: alas! fill the abode of doom with decoyed and destroyed souls.

IV. Wickedness thrives by utter heartlessness (Jer ; Isa 32:17). Even "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." 1. The man who will wrong God will not scruple to wrong his fellows. 2. Mournful when the wicked are in great power. 3. How contrasted the treatment of the poor and oppressed by Christ (Psa 72:12-14). 4. What need to pray and work that "the wickedness of the wicked may come to an end."

V. Wickedness ensures God's sure revenge (Jer ). God will: 1. Avenge His insulted honour. 2. His outraged laws. 3. The suffering victims. 4. The spoliation of His heritage. Oh, the doom of him on whom lies the blood of murdered souls! (Addenda, Jer 5:26, "They set a trap;" Jer 5:27, "Retribution in kind.")

Jer . A CRY OF WARNING IN A PERIOD OF UNIVERSAL APOSTASY.

i. The condition of the people is shocking and abominable: for (a.) The leaders of the people mislead them. (b.) The people wish to be misled, ii. The consequences correspond to the guilt (comp. Jer ; Jer 5:14; Jer 5:16).—Naeg.

"My people love to have it so." It is criterion of false teaching that it lightens the yoke of God's law, removes His fear from the conscience, and leaves man to his own nature; and with this man is only too ready to be content.—Speaker's Com.

"The credulous confidence of the ignorant has in all ages been at the command of an interested priesthood."—Hend.

"It appears clear from various parts of the Old Testament, that a great number of persons pretending to prophecy arose among the Hebrews, by whom the exertions of the true prophets were greatly counteracted, and the ruin of the nation accelerated."—Ibid.

"Like sought, like found. The people wish to have false preachers, and get them, and a blind man leads the blind, until both fall into the ditch (Luk )."—Cramer.

The fatal consequences. Consider:

i. What reckoning would be for their wickedness (Jer ). Sometimes mercy rejoices against judgment; How shall I give thee up? Here judgment is reasoning against mercy; Shall I not visit? It denotes:

1. The certainty and necessity of God's judgments. Vengeance must come.

2. The justice and equity of God's judgments. He appeals to the sinner's own conscience. Do not such guilty abominations merit punishment.

ii. What was the direct tendency of their wickedness (Jer ), i.e.—

1. What a pitch of wickedness you will come to at last! "What will you do?" What will this grow to? Worse and worse.

2. What a pit of destruction you will come to at last! Nothing can be expected but a deluge of wrath from God.

Note: Those who walk in bad ways would do well to consider the tendency of them both to greater sin and utter ruin.—M. Henry.

Theme: THE DISMAL OUTLOOK. Text: "What will you do in the end thereof?" A troublesome question, ghastly in its subtle suggestiveness. Lifts veil of imagination on dark outlook. Vague horrors. There is something beyond the immediate present. That beyond is solemn and dreadful enough to dwarf the consideration of the present. Man has a future. Life goes on to stupendous issues. All things verge to a crisis. "What will you do in the end thereof?"

I. That wicked courses come to an "end." The book of human history will close. Angel swear, "Time shall be no more?" The Archangel's trump will sound. Every life must be reckoned.

1. The interval may be delusively pleasant.

2. Men may dream away life in heedlessness.

3. The inevitable close comes on. Death. Judgment.

II. The in "the end" wicked courses are calamitous. Boat in the current over the rapids. Spendthrift comes to penury. Prodigality leads to squandered health and "husks."

1. The terror of a defenceless soul. "What do?"

2. The urgency of preparation. "Do" something now.

3. The value of a good hope. Need to do nothing but hide in Christ. How blessed to feel sure (2Ti ).

III. That in the calamitous "end" the wicked will have no refuge or plea. "What will you do?" Having "neglected great salvation;" alienated infinite love; despised and offended Jesus; lost your sole interval of escape?

1. Utter dismay (Isa ; Rev 6:16).

2. Utterly defenceless. Deserted by all human comforters; every false hope gone; and the sinner's Friend your avenging Judge. Not a plea left you to excuse or extenuate your guilt.

IV. That without a refuge or plea "the end" of all is irremediable ruin (Jer ). (Addenda, Jer 5:31. "What do in the end?")

1. Use the auspicious present. 2. Forsake evil and live. 3. Flee for refuge to the hope set before you in the Gospel.

NOTICEABLE TOPICS IN CHAPTER 5

Topic: HARVEST SERMON. Text: "Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of harvest" (Jer ).

Three lamentable habits and attitudes of thought:

1. Readiness to see the worst side of God's natural providences. "He giveth rain;" untimely, insufficient, or excessive.

2. Bowing the God of nature out of all active management of His own world. A delusion to suppose weather, rains, and fine "weeks of harvest" are regulated by special providence. God is above such affairs: so say not, "Let us fear, Lord," &c.

3. Ignoring the fact that human conduct affects God's providential dispensations (Jer ). There is a continual administration of judgment going on in this life, admonitory of the final.

I. The benignant order of natural providences. "Early rain," and "latter; but rain "reserved" during "weeks of harvest." Without "early," seed not germinate; if "latter" not come, grain dried and withered prematurely; then ripening suns.

1. Each aspect of nature is welcomed in its season. God rolls the seasons found, and every change is beneficent and congenial. So in the ages of man: childhood lovely, youth winning, mature have grace, snowy age majestic. But these are only welcomed in their season. "Snow in harvest" not welcomed; ruinous. So childishness in manhood, &c. "In season."

2. The certain revolution of the seasons. Every year appointed times come round. Cannot alter; cannot hasten spring, nor delay winter. So seasons of life. (1.) Seasons cannot be hurried. Youth must bear its yoke, manhood its toils; reaping and rest cannot be forestalled. "Race not to swift," &c. (2.) Seasons cannot be delayed. Winter refuses to pause. Youth not long with the young: age comes on; or, what is oftener than age, death.

Let not seasons pass unused, lest "weeks of harvest" bring no ingathering.

II. An interval reserved for harvest ingathering. God kept these "weeks" from intrusion of unseasonable weather, and "rain."

1. The reaping season has a fixed duration: "weeks." Soon gone. Squander golden opportunity: "past!" "What hands do, with might." All gracious seasons are brief. Therefore reapers ply with industry. Men, wise in worldly concerns, take heed that fine opportunities not squandered. Right; God sends favourable times, when, if equal to occasion, reap large gains. Make most of every good occasion in life. Special opportunities of grace: "Work while day." Gather in while you may, fruits of Spirit, bounties of Divine love, blessings of redemption.

2. The work of harvest ingathering. Fields laden, swept with scythe, crops garnered. Some will complain, dissatisfied with results: so ever. Fear many will be surprised at results of life, when "reap what sown." None expect a bad end or adverse judgment before God. Strange infatuation! Madness to "sow to flesh" and expect other than "corruption." Bitter the ingathering of lost hopes and ruined joys! But glad the ingathering of the Christian; joyous the harvest.

3. The Divine law of multiplying. From handfuls come "harvest." "Thirty, sixty, a hundred." "Heap up treasures." Sow wind, reap whirlwind. Live benignly and devoutly, "receive into everlasting habitations." Same in quality, but increased in quantity. Think on this immeasurable and eternal reaping of the issues of life! Ingathering will come, for God hath "reserved weeks."

III. Man's becoming response to God's gracious bestowments. "Let us now fear the Lord."

1. With discerning adoration, let us receive God's favours. "Bless the Lord, and forget not benefits." "What render unto the Lord?"

2. With diligent promptitude let us use the auspicious seasons God sends. Turn "weeks" to account; waste them not for "more convenient season." Wise husbandman works eagerly to. "fill his barns." Make your hearts garners of spiritual peace and joy.

3. With devoutest service let us show our "fear of the Lord." The harvest-song God loves, but the harvest-fruits He requires. Lay on His altar life and love. "I beseech you by mercies of Lord, present your bodies living sacrifice," &c.—(Addenda, Jer , "God recognised in the harvest.")

ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 5 ILLUSTRATIONS AND SUGGESTIVE EXTRACTS

Jer . "Streets of Jerusalem." In ancient times the streets of Jerusalem seemed to have names. (They have none now.) Several are mentioned: "East Street" (2Ch 29:4), "Street of the house of God" (Ezr 10:9), "Water-gate Street" (Neh 8:1; Neh 8:3), "Ephraim-Gate Street" (Neh 8:16), Bakers' Street" (Jer 37:21).

The number of the "streets" was great (Jer ). Jeremiah makes frequent allusion to the "streets of Jerusalem" (Jer 5:1; Jer 7:17; Jer 7:34; Jer 9:21; Jer 11:6; Jer 11:13; Jer 14:16; Jer 33:10; Jer 44:6; Jer 44:9; Jer 44:21). He was distinctively the prophet of the thoroughfares; and this because the "broad places and streets" were scenes of idolatry, altars and idols being erected therein.

"Seek, if ye can find a man." Diogenes, the cynic, having lighted a lamp, ranged the streets peering about as if searching for something. Being asked what he looked for, he answered, "A man;" or, as is usually recorded, "An honest man!" But the words in Laertius are ἄνθρωπον ζητῶ, "I seek a man." He sought not alone a man with honesty and truth in his character, but a MAN in whom all right and noble qualities were combined. He constantly reviled the society of Greece with its lack of manhood.

"The host of Nola being bid to summon the good men of the town to appear before the Roman censor, gat him to the churchyard, and there called at the graves of the dead; for he knew not where to call for a good man alive."—Trapp.

One true man would avert the coming woe. "Ghislerus reminds us of a story which Pliny relates of King Demetrius, who retired from the city of Rhodium because he could not take it on its only accessible side without destroying some celebrated paintings of Protogenes."—Lange. This one man's merits saved the city.

"When the good man mends his armour,

And trims his helmet's plume,

When the good wife's shuttle merrily

Goes flashing through the loom,

With weeping and with laughter

Still is the story told

How well Horatius kept the bridge.

In the brave days of old."

—Lays of Ancient Rome.

Jer . Ignorance and irreligion. Ignorance of the price of pearls makes the idiot slight them. Ignorance of the worth of diamonds makes the fool choose a pebble before them. Ignorance of the satisfaction learning affords makes the peasant despise it. So with religion.—Anthony Horneck.

Jer . "When I fed them to the full," &c. Fulness in good men often breeds forgetfulness, and in bad men filthiness. Gula vestibulum luxuriœ—gluttony is the gallery that incontinency walketh through. The Israelites ate and drank, and rose up to play, scil., with their Midianitish mistresses. Fulness of bread made way to Sodom's sin. Lunatics, when the moon is declining and in the wane, are sober enough; but when full, more wild and exorbitant.—Trapp.

Jer . "My words shall devour them." "Though men were hard as rocks, the Word is a hammer which can break them; though as sharp as briers and thorns, the Word is a fire which can devour and torment them."—Bishop Reynolds.

An infidel said, "There is one thing that mars all the pleasure of my life." "Indeed!" replied his friend; "what is that?" He answered, "I am afraid the Bible is true. If I could know for certain that death is an eternal sleep, my joy would be complete. But here is the thorn that stings me, the sword that pierces to my very soul: if the Bible is true, I am lost for ever."

Jer . "Tremble at my presence, which have made the sea?"

"Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form

Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,

Calm or convulsed,—in breeze, or gale, or storm,

Icing the pole, or in the torrid olime

Dark heaving, boundless, eternal, and sublime—

The image of eternity, the throne Of the Invisible."

—BYRON.

"In contemplation of created things

By steps we may ascend to God."

—MILTON.

"Sand for the bound of the sea." Modern science has shown that the resisting power of sand is enormous. By the mechanical laws which govern it, the shock of a blow is distributed laterally, and produces little effect. An egg buried a few inches deep in the sand would not be broken by heavy blows falling upon the surface. And so a wave which would shatter rocks falls powerless upon sand.—Dr. Payne Smith.

Jer . "Revolting heart." The forcible and true meaning of the word "revolt" has become obscured. It suggests affections which had been drawn back from God through dislike of His claims; then followed active resistance," rebellion."

Jer . God recognised in the harvest. Dr. Guthrie tells us, that as a traveller in a lonely district drew near to a cottage, he heard a man exclaiming, "Thanks be to God for this and Christ!" So earnest was the tone of the speaker, that the traveller ventured to go in to see what the gift was that called forth such thanksgiving. It was but a crust of bread, on which the poor occupant of that cottage was about to make his mid-day meal. To the devout old man a crust and Christ was something to thank God for. How much more it behoves us, when the valleys are covered with corn, and when the fruits of the earth are safely stored in the garner, to lift up our hands and our hearts unto God, and say, "Thanks be unto God for all this and Christ!"—Rev. R. A. Bertram.

"God, that giveth rain." The vast reservoir of the ocean provided for the supply of vapour; the laws which cause these vapours to rise and float in the air; the winds which waft them to the land; the attraction there exercised upon them by trees, mountains, &c.; the currents of air moving in different directions, which, by their differences of temperature cause the vapour to condense and be deposited in drops; the laws of congelation, which store up part of the winter excess in the shape of snow and ice upon the mountains for summer use; the diversified strata of the earth, which store up another portion, causing it in some places to break forth in springs, in others keeping it out of the reach of evaporation, but available for man's use by the digging of wells: all these complicated arrangements show such a thoughtful care for the supply of one of the first necessaries of human life, that those capable of understanding them ought to say in their hearts, "Let us fear the Lord."—Speaker's Com.

Jer . "They set a trap; they catch men."

"Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began,

A mighty hunter—and his prey was man."

—POPE.

Plans adopted for catching birds. 1. Trap; the usual method (Job ; Ecc 9:12; Pro 7:23); made of two parts—a net stretched over a frame, a stick supporting it, so placed as to give way with the least touch (Amo 3:5, "gin;" Psa 69:22, "trap"). 2. Snare; was a cord (Job 18:10, cf. Psa 18:5; Psa 116:3; Psa 140:5) so placed as to catch a bird by the leg. 3. Decoy; (Jer 5:26-27), a cage filled with birds, the door being kept open by stick (or cord), which suddenly closed on the entrance of any bird.

Hunting, with its snares, may remind us of that mighty hunter, Satan, and his devices. Decoys, snares for the unwary. Hence the duty of watchfulness. "In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird" (Pro ).—J. Comper Grey, "Topics."

Jer . "Retribution in kind." "They that will be rich fall into a snare" (1Ti 6:9). "Thou fool! this night thy soul is required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God" (Luk 12:20-21).

Jer , "What do in the end?" On that day, if all your unforgiven sins are against you; if Jesus Christ, wounded and driven back, is against you; if the Holy Ghost is against you, with whom you have striven; if the offended Lord God Almighty is against you; ah! coming as you are, into that day, you must perish. It will be too late to pray then. Even the granite rocks will fall the other way as you pray to them, "Fall on us," &c.—Talmage.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/jeremiah-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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