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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Jeremiah 25

 

 

Verse 5-6

DISCOURSE: 1063

RELIGION IS NOT A SOURCE OF EVIL TO THOSE WHO EMBRACE IT

Jeremiah 25:5-6. Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings.. And I will do you no hurt.

SIN is the greatest of all evils; because it is the source from which all evils flow. Nor can the miseries which it has introduced be ever remedied, but by a thorough turning unto God. This, Jeremiah tells us, was the remedy prescribed by all the prophets [Note: ver. 4. with the text.]: and certainly it is the only one that can ever prove effectual.

The passage, from whence the text is taken, contains, in addition to the words which we have cited, a dehortation or dissuasion from idolatry; together with an intimation that a continuance in that sin would accelerate their ruin, and insure their exclusion from the promised land: they would persist in it “to their hurt [Note: ver. 7.].” On the contrary, if they would return to God, he would forbear to inflict upon them his threatened judgments, and “do them no hurt.”

But we omit that which related to the temporal state of the Jews, in order that we may fix your attention more immediately upon that part of the subject which is applicable to all persons in all ages of the world.

The text consists of,

I. An exhortation—

As idolatry was at that time the national sin of the Jews, so every one has some evil way to which he is more particularly addicted. We cannot pretend to trace all the shades of difference that are found in different men: we will rather arrange the whole under three great and comprehensive classes; to one or other of which, all, except true Christians, belong. We therefore say, Turn,

1. From profaneness—

[That this is a common sin amongst us, needs no proof: we cannot open our eyes or our ears, but we must be speedily convinced of it — — —

Let then as many of you as have entertained licentious principles, or indulged in vicious practices, “turn from the evil of your doings,” yea, turn from it speedily, and with utter abhorrence.]

2. From worldliness—

[While the young and gay are rushing into vice, and pouring contempt upon every thing that is serious, a great part of mankind are immersed in worldly cares, and are as regardless of religion as their more dissipated brethren — — —

True it is, that these persons have more specious grounds on which to vindicate their conduct, inasmuch as it seems nearly allied to prudence and diligence. Still, however, while we highly approve of those virtues, we cannot but condemn a worldly spirit as evil; since it is declared to be incompatible with the love of God [Note: 1 John 2:15-17.]: and therefore we say to all, “Turn from it,” lest you deceive yourselves to your utter ruin.]

3. From formality—

[There is a very considerable number of persons, whose strictness of principle, and correctness of manners, screen them effectually against any charge of profaneness; while their indifference to riches and aggrandizement shews, that they are not open, in any great degree, to the imputation of worldliness, But their religion consists in a mere round of duties, in which they have no real enjoyment of God, but only a self-righteous, self-complacent approbation of their own minds — — —

That this also is evil, we cannot doubt, if only we bear in mind that God requires our hearts [Note: Proverbs 33:26.]; and that every service, in which the heart is not engaged, is declared to be vain and worthless in his sight [Note: Matthew 15:8-9. Compare 2 Timothy 3:5.].

In exhorting such persons to turn from the evil of their doings, we would by no means be understood to discourage diligence in attending on divine ordinances, whether public or private; but only to guard against a resting in the performance of duties, and a substituting of that in the place of Christ. In appreciating our religious observances, let us judge of them by their spirituality, and by our enjoyment of God in them: and, if they be ever so devout, still let us remember that they make no atonement for sin, nor do they confer any obligation whatever upon God: yea, rather the more devout they are, the more we are indebted to God for that grace whereby we are so enabled to worship him.]

To confirm the exhortation, God has been pleased to add,

II. A promise—

At first sight the promise appears to be unworthy of God, and incapable of affording any great encouragement to those to whom it is made. But, if taken altogether abstractedly, it surely is no light matter for those who deserve all the judgments that God can inflict, to be assured, that he will never do them any hurt: and, if considered in connexion with our fears and apprehensions, it will be found to contain the richest consolation. In this view, we observe, God will do us no hurt in respect of,

1. Our intellect—

[When we begin in earnest to be religious, our friends are ready to suppose that we are, or shall soon be, beside ourselves [Note: See Mark 3:21. Acts 26:24. 2 Corinthians 5:13.]: nor can we altogether wonder at their judgment, when we consider how great the change is, (like a river turning back to its source,) and how unable they are to account for it. But they may spare themselves their fears; for God gives his people, not a spirit of delusion, but “of a sound mind [Note: 2 Timothy 1:7.].” The prodigal’s return to his father’s house was the first proof of sanity, not of insanity: nor has any person a spark of true wisdom in him, till he begin to fear the Lord [Note: Psalms 111:10.]. In conversion, a man is made to form a correct judgment respecting his most important concerns; and not only to view things in the same light that God views them, but to act agreeably to those views. As well therefore might the man whose eyes Jesus had opened be said to have suffered injury in his organs of vision, as a person thus enlightened in his judgment be said to have suffered in his intellect [Note: That people who are insane, may fix their thoughts upon religion, or that a person may become distracted by misapprehensions of religion, is confessed: but if religion would drive a man mad, the more religious he was, the more likely to be mad. Who does not shudder at the consequences that would result from that opinion?].]

2. Our friends—

[We are taught to expect, that, on our becoming decided followers of Christ, “our greatest foes will be those of our own household [Note: Matthew 10:35-36.]:” and experience accords with the declarations of Scripture on this head. But are we therefore injured in this respect? Our Lord has told us, and experience accords with that also, that if we lose any friends for his sake, he will repay us in kind, as it were, an hundred-fold [Note: Mark 10:29-30.]. A merchant who should part with his goods to such an advantage as this, would surely not be thought to have sustained any loss. But besides this recompence in the present world, God himself will be our friend, both now and for ever. And would not this amply repay the loss of all earthly friends?]

3. Our reputation—

[Though the whole of our conduct be visibly improved, yet snail we, on turning to God, be loaded with opprobrium and contempt; and though something may be gained by prudence, or conceded to us on account of our celebrity in learning, there is no religious person that occupies the same place in the estimation of the world that he would do if he were not religious. If our Lord himself was “despised and rejected of men [Note: Isaiah 53:3.],” and the Apostles were deemed “the off-scouring of all things [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:13.]”, it is in vain for us to expect honour from man [Note: Matthew 10:24-25. with John 5:44.]. But are we therefore without honour? No: our very disgrace, when so procured, is a very high honour, inasmuch as it assimilates us to Christ [Note: 1 Peter 4:13.], and is a testimony to us of our fidelity [Note: Luke 21:13.]. But suppose that ignominy had nothing to counterbalance it here, should we have any reason to regret it when Christ “confessed us before his Father, and his holy angels;” and when they who despised us, shall “awake to shame and everlasting contempt [Note: Daniel 12:2.]?”]

4. Our interests—

[The laws of the land certainly afford us a very great protection. Nevertheless it is no uncommon thing at this day for children and servants to be called to make very great sacrifices for the Gospel sake. But be it so: they are forced, like St. Paul, to serve the Lord “in coldness and nakedness,” and in a privation of all earthly comforts. But are they eventually “hurt?” What if their spiritual consolations be proportioned to their temporal afflictions; have they not made a good exchange? Is not peace in the bosom incomparably better than money in the purse? The riches of this world are easily appreciated: but those which Christ imparts, are “unsearchable.” Their despisers would, at a future day, give all the world for a drop of water only to cool their tongue. How rich then must they be who are drinking living waters eternally at the fountain head!]

5. Our happiness—

[Doubtless the godly have grounds of mourning peculiar to themselves: but are they therefore losers in respect of happiness? No: their sorrows, if I may so speak, are sources of joy: they would on no account be without them: they rather regret that they cannot sorrow more: they mourn because they cannot mourn, and weep because they cannot weep: and if at any time they have been enabled to abase themselves before God in dust and ashes, they look back upon such seasons as the most precious in their whole lives, But if they have sorrows unknown to others, have they not “joys also, with which the stranger intermeddleth not?” Let a promise be applied with power to their souls, or “the love of God be shed abroad in their hearts,” have they not a very foretaste of heaven upon earth? Compare their state with that of others, on a dying bed: follow them in the instant of their departure from the body: see them welcomed to the bosom of their Lord: contemplate their eternal state, in contrast with that of those who despised them; and then say whether they have any reason to complain, that their fidelity to God occasioned on the whole a diminution of their happiness?]

Address—

1. Those who are yet following their evil ways—

[One question I beg leave to put to you: Will God “do YOU no hurt?” Inquire, I pray you: search the sacred records: see what God has spoken respecting sin and sinners: Will it do you no hurt to bear his wrath, and to drink of the cup of his indignation to all eternity? — — — We inquire not, What are the ways you follow? If you do not turn from every evil way to God, and devote yourself unreservedly to your Lord and Saviour, the issue will be the same, whatever course you take. Your guilt may be more or less aggravated, and your misery be apportioned accordingly: but, without entering into the different degrees of punishment, let me ask, Will not sin be visited with the wrath of God? and will that do you no hurt? — — — On the other hand, would not God do you good, if you would return unto him? — — — “Turn then from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin [Note: Ezekiel 18:30.].”]

2. Those who are turning from their evil ways—

[Halt not between two opinions: strive not to reconcile the inconsistent services of God and mammon [Note: Matthew 6:24.]. “If Baal be God, follow him: but if the Lord be God, then follow him.” There is a certain kind of turning unto God, by which you will suffer hurt on every side, and receive no benefit whatever. If your “heart be not whole with God,” no good can accrue to you, nor can any evil be averted from you. The world will not approve of you, because you are too precise for them: and God will not approve of you, because you are not upright before him. Be not then temporizing and hypocritical, But open, decided, and consistent characters. “Follow your Lord fully:” “follow him without the camp, bearing his reproach [Note: Hebrews 13:13.]”. Thus, though “your life may be accounted madness, and your end to be without honour, yet shall you be numbered among the children of God, and have your lot among his saints [Note: Wisd. 5:4, 5.].”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 25:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/jeremiah-25.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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