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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Jeremiah 32

 

 

Verses 37-42

DISCOURSE: 1076

THE FUTURE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS

Jeremiah 32:37-42. Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell in safety: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them [Note: There is a Discourse on this text: but this is inserted, in order to illustrate its bearing on the Conversion of the Jews.].

AMONGST the numberless manifestations of God’s mercy in the Scriptures, we cannot but be particularly struck with this, that scarcely ever do we find any awful denunciation of God’s wrath against his offending people, but there is some gracious promise annexed to it, as an encouragement to them to repent. In the whole preceding part of the chapter before us, God declared his determination to give up Jerusalem into the hands of the Chaldeans. Yet behold, at that very time does God open to his people the most consolatory prospects of an ultimate restoration to their own land, and of numberless attendant blessings to be poured out upon them.

In considering the passage which we have just read, I shall have occasion to shew you,

I. What blessings God has in reserve for his chosen people—

These correspond exactly with the state in which they were at the time when the promise was made. They had grievously departed from God; and, on account of their iniquities, they were doomed to be cast off, and to be sent into captivity in Babylon. But, as God had graciously determined to temper judgment with mercy, he here promises to them,

1. A restoration to their own land—

[A restoration from Babylon is doubtless the point here primarily intended: and that was vouchsafed to them at the expiration of seventy years, according to the predictions of the prophet respecting it. But the terms in which this is declared almost necessarily lead our minds to a restoration yet future; because it was from Babylon alone that the first deliverance was vouchsafed, whereas the promise relates to a deliverance “out of all countries, whither they have been driven:” and it speaks of their being caused to “dwell safely;” whereas they experienced but little of peace and safety after their first restoration: they were grievously harassed, from time to time, by the kings of Syria and Egypt, and their other neighbours, till at last they were subdued, and utterly destroyed, by the Romans: but at their restoration from their present dispersion, they will enjoy a state of peace and prosperity far beyond all that they ever experienced in the most favoured periods of their history: Jerusalem, instead of being defended, as formerly, against enemies, by ramparts of man’s construction, “will be inhabited as a town without walls; because the Lord will be a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her [Note: Zechariah 2:4-5.].” This is repeatedly and distinctly promised: “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall nut be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken: but there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby [Note: Isaiah 33:20-21.]:” that is, she shall be alike inaccessible to enemies of every description, by reason of the effectual protection afforded her by Jehovah. And in this happy state shall they continue, “planting vineyards, and drinking of the wine thereof; and making gardens, and eating of the fruit of them; and being so securely planted in their land, as never again to be pulled up, and rooted out of it [Note: Amos 9:14-15.].”]

2. A renewed acknowledgment of their relation to him—

[During their captivity in Babylon, and still more in their present dispersion, they are like a repudiated wife, whom her husband will no more acknowledge. To apprise them of God’s determination to put them away, the Prophet Hosea was instructed to “call his son Lo-ammi;” for, says God, “ye are not my people, and I will not be your God [Note: Hosea 1:8-9; Hosea 2:1-2.].” Their connexion with Jehovah being thus dissolved, their enemies have been able to oppress them, and indeed have grievously oppressed them in every nation where they have been scattered. But the time is coming, when God will again shew himself in their behalf, and renew to them all the wonderful interpositions which he vouchsafed to them in former days. At least ten times is this promise in our text repeated to them by the prophets, that “they shall again be God’s people, and he their God;” or, as it is very emphatically said, “a God unto them [Note: Hebrews 8:10.].” Nor can any language more fully depict the blessings contained in this promise, than that of the Prophet Isaiah: “Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory, Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended [Note: Isaiah 60:15-16; Isaiah 60:19-20.].”]

3. A spirit of piety poured out upon them—

[“One heart and one way” have distinguished the Lord’s people in all ages of the world: nor can either the heart or the way be more justly described, than in those comprehensive words, “The fear of God.” This disposition belongs not to us by nature, nor is this conduct found in any natural man: it is the gift of God, who “by his Spirit convinces us of sin,” and reveals a Saviour to us, and inclines us to devote ourselves unreservedly to his service. There are many points, of subordinate moment, in which the children of God may differ: but in these things they all agree: “as face answereth to face in a glass, so in these respects doth the heart of man to man.” All, without exception, feel themselves to be guilty and undone sinners; all cleave unto the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope; and all walk before God, in a way of holy, tender, and affectionate obedience. And this marks their character to the latest hour of their lives. They would no more divest themselves of the fear of God, than of love, or joy, or confidence, or any other gracious affection whatsoever. And this holy state of mind will eminently distinguish the Jews in the latter day. It will be given to them “for their own good, and for the good of their children after them:” for, in truth, this kind of piety; whilst it invariably exalts the person in whom it is found, will always display itself in a diligent attention to the rising generation. At present, the children of the Jews are neglected in a very extraordinary degree: but it will not be so in that day: for, like Abraham of old, the parents will “command their children, and their households after them, to fear the Lord;” and the whole nation, for many successive generations, will be “an holy people unto the Lord.”

Here it will be proper to observe, that this diffusion of piety will not precede, but follow, their restoration to their own land: at least, so, I think, the Prophet Ezekiel has plainly intimated; saying, “When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then shall they know that I am the Lord: neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God [Note: Ezekiel 39:25-29.].” But in that day, I hesitate not to say, they, even the whole nation, will be eminently holy; since “then God will sprinkle clean water upon them, and they shall be clean: from all their filthiness, and from all their idols, will he cleanse them: a new heart also will he give unto them, and a new spirit will he put within them: he will even put his Holy Spirit within them, and will cause them to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments, and do them: and they shall dwell in the land which ho gave to their fathers; and they shall be his people, and he will be their God [Note: Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Jeremiah 24:6-7.].”]

As we speak with confidence respecting their final possession of these blessings, it will be proper to shew,

II. What security they have for the enjoyment of them—

In the behalf of this desolate and outcast people are pledged,

1. The veracity of God—

[God will make a covenant with them; not like the covenant which he made with them in former days, wherein the possession of his blessings was suspended upon their fidelity to God, and which, being violated by them, was utterly dissolved; but he will make one, which, in consequence of God’s undertaking every thing for them, as well as for himself, shall never be broken, but shall endure for ever. This may well be called a Covenant of Grace; for in it God gives all, and man receives all: God engages, not only that ho will not depart from his people to do them good, but that he will put his “fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him.” And here I would particularly call your attention to the way in which he undertakes to keep them: it is not through the medium of a bold, presumptuous unhallowed confidence, such as you see in many professors of religion, and such as betrays itself in rash, unscriptural assertions: it is by “putting his fear into their hearts,” and causing them to “walk humbly before him,” and to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” I would that this matter were better understood in the Christian world; and that they who profess to believe with Abraham, would, with Abraham, “fall upon their face before God,” and walk before him with a perfect heart [Note: Genesis 17:1-3.].

That such a covenant shall be made with them in that day, is fully declared in the chapter preceding our text: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [Note: Jeremiah 31:31-33. with Hebrews 8:8-10.].” The interest also which “their children” shall have in this covenant is further declared: “They shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children, for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore [Note: Ezekiel 37:25-28.].”]

2. The power of God—

[At their first espousal to God, “he rejoiced over them to do them good:” and since his rejection of them for their unfaithfulness, “he has rejoiced over them to bring them to nought [Note: Deuteronomy 28:63.].” But at the period we are now speaking of, he will again “rejoice over them to do them good;” as says the Prophet Zephaniah, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty: he will save; he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing [Note: Zephaniah 3:17.].” It appears, at present, as if the obstacles to the accomplishment of all these promises were absolutely insurmountable: but “if God will work, who shall let it?” He says, “I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart, and with my whole soul.” Shall it then fail of its accomplishment in due season? “Is there any thing too hard for the Lord?” Has he scattered them according to his word, and preserved them a separate people, notwithstanding their dispersion; and shall he not gather them again, and “bring upon them all the good that he has promised them?” If all the obstacles that men or devils can ever raise against it were united in one common mass, I would say to them, “Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain [Note: Zechariah 4:7.].”]

Learn, then, from hence,

1. What we, if we are the Lord’s people, may expect for ourselves—

[It is not to the Jews, as Jews, that the spiritual promises are made; but with them as believing in the Messiah, and as submitting to the government of David their prince. If this, then, be our character, they are made to us; and we, substituting the heavenly for the earthly Canaan, may take to ourselves all these great and precious promises, expecting assuredly that God will thus exert himself for us, till he has put us into the full possession of all the blessedness of heaven. If we have been brought from our wanderings “to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem [Note: Hebrews 12:22.],” then are we interested in this covenant, and God will confer upon us its choicest blessings; regarding us as “his peculiar treasure,” and exerting for us his Almighty power, “to keep us from falling, that in due season we may be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy [Note: 1 Peter 1:5. Jude, ver. 24.].” Learn, my beloved Brethren, to realize these glorious expectations, and to enjoy in your own persons what you anticipate in behalf of your Jewish brethren.

Fix your eyes steadily on that good land in which God has assuredly determined to plant you; and contemplate him as engaging, “with his whole heart, and with his whole soul,” to effect his gracious purpose. I say, view this whole work of grace in its commencement, its progress, its consummation; and, if your conscience bears witness that he has “given you a heart and a way to fear him,” then rely on him to preserve you from ever departing from him, and to complete for you in heaven what he has begun on earth: for “faithful is He that hath called you, who also will do it [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:24.].”]

2. What encouragement we have to labour for our Jewish brethren—

[The object which we have in view is, not their restoration to their own land (that, I conceive, we may well leave in the hands of Providence, without presuming to interfere with it), but their conversion to Christ, and the everlasting salvation of their souls. Compare their present state of degradation and ruin with those periods of their history when God vouchsafed to them the manifestations of his love and favour; and say whether we should not wish to restore them to their former happiness and honour? Yet I conceive that the blessedness that awaits them will as far exceed all that their forefathers ever enjoyed, as that of their forefathers surpassed any thing that was experienced by the heathens around them. Indeed we are told, that “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the lay that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound [Note: Isaiah 30:26.].” “Come, then, to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against all the enemies of our God” and of his Christ. Had you to attempt the work of their conversion without Divine assistance, I readily grant that you might well be discouraged: but when you see what God has promised them, and to what an extent his veracity and power are pledged to effect it, methinks you should all be animated with a holy ambition to become God’s honoured instruments for their welfare. The indifference which has been shewn in relation to this work for seventeen hundred years may well fill us with astonishment: and even yet the Christian world is not alive to it as they ought to be. A very small measure of zeal in this great cause is regarded as extravagance, But shall Almighty God engage in it “with his whole heart and with his whole soul,” and shall we be lukewarm? — — — Arise, I say, to your duty. Your God is already gone out before you: there is already “a stir among the dry tones;” and the time is fast approaching, when we may hope to see them “arise a great army.” Let zeal for God and love for man have their perfect work among you. Be likeminded with God himself, and in every possible way “rejoice over them to do them good” — — — so shall the time be hastened forward, and “the kingdoms of the whole world, both of Jews and Gentiles, become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.”]


Verses 39-41

DISCOURSE: 1077

SALVATION IS OF GOD, FROM FIRST TO LAST

Jeremiah 32:39-41. I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them, in this land assuredly, with my whole heart, and with my whole soul [Note: The preceding Discourse on this text shews its bearing upon the Conversion of the Jews: this its reference to the Christian Church.].

THERE is not any thing more common than for persons, who treated with contempt God’s threatened judgments, to sink under them in the most abject manner, as soon as they begin to feel them. The Jews would not be persuaded for a long season that God would ever deliver them into the hand of the Chaldeans: but when they found that his word was ready to take effect, they were overwhelmed with grief and despondency. To preserve them from running to this extreme, and to shew them that the Divine judgments would be tempered with mercy, the prophet was inspired to foretel their future restoration to that very land from whence they were about to be carried captive. But it is evident that this prophecy has respect to a far greater deliverance, even to the redemption of the world from sin and Satan, and the restoration of sinners to their forfeited inheritance. A near prospect of the punishment which their sins have merited, often brings them, with a very quick transition, from presumption to despair: but, for their encouragement, God teaches them to look to him as an all-sufficient helper, and to rely on him for the carrying on of the good work wherever he has begun it. In this view of the passage we may notice,

I. The means of our conversion—

In our natural state we are afar off from God, going astray like sheep that are lost. In order to recover us,

God puts his fear into our hearts—

[While unconverted, we “have no fear of God before our eyes:” we all walk after the imagination of our own hearts, seeking happiness in various ways, according as we are led by our different inclinations or situations in life. But in conversion, God “gives us one heart and one way.” By these words we do not so much understand, an unity of affection and pursuit, in opposition to the multiplicity of desires with which every carnal mind is distracted (though doubtless that idea is included in them) as, that oneness of sentiment and action that pervades all who are the subjects of divine grace. As on the day of Pentecost, so, in every age and place, Christians, as far as they are taught of God, are of one heart and mind. The prejudices of education do indeed make a difference between them with respect to some matters of less importance; and an undue stress laid upon these things too often prevents that close union and communion that should subsist between all the members of Christ’s mystical body: but, with respect to the grand point of fearing God, there is no difference among them: all, without exception, have “one heart and one way,” in that they desire above all things, and earnestly endeavour, to walk in the fear of God all the day long — — —]

This is to the unspeakable benefit of ourselves, and of all connected with us—

[Too often are men dissuaded from entertaining this fear, lest it should prove injurious to them; but none ever received it into their hearts without looking back upon all their former life with shame and sorrow: yea, they have ever considered the season of their first submission to it as the most blessed era of their lives; and, instead of regretting that they ever yielded to its influence, they invariably wish to have their whole souls subjected to its dominion. And as they find it thus for their own good, inasmuch as it enlivens their hopes, and purifies their hearts, so is it for the good of their children, yea, and of all connected with them. It makes them better in every station and relation of life, whether as parents or children, masters or servants, rulers or subjects: it leads them to fill up their various duties to the honour of God; and to communicate, to the utmost of their power, the same blessed disposition to all around them.]

The same divine agency, that first converted us, proves afterwards,

II. The source of our perseverance—

“It is not in man to direct his own steps:” our progress in the way of duty depends on,

1. The engagements of God’s covenant—

[God has entered into covenant with his Church and people, and undertaken to preserve them from apostasy. Nor is this covenant liable to be broken, like that which he made with the Israelites in the wilderness [Note: Jeremiah 31:31-32.]: it is and will be “everlasting,” because God himself engages to do all which is requisite for our support. “He will not depart from us to do us good;” he may, like a wise parent, sometimes frown, and sometimes chastise; but, while he acts in this manner, he does it for our good, no less than when ho lifts up the light of his countenance upon us. He has said that, “if we break his statutes, and keep not his commandments, he will visit our transgression with the rod, and our iniquity with stripes; nevertheless his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from us, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail; his covenant will he not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his lips [Note: Psalms 89:31-34.].” “He engages further that we shall not depart from him.” Here, doubtless, is the greater danger, seeing we have a heart “bent to backslide from him;” and, if left by him for one moment, we should relapse into all our former sins. But he knows how to establish the wavering, or restore the fallen; and thus to “perfect his own strength in our weakness.” He may leave us for a season, as he did Hezekiah, that we may know what is in our hearts: but he assures us, that our “steps shall be ordered by him,” and that our “light shall shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day:” he will so “draw us, that we shall run after him;” and so “keep us from falling, that an entrance may be ministered unto us abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”]

2. The exertions of his power—

[God speaks of himself in language accommodated to our low apprehensions of his nature, and declares that he will exert all his power, and find all his delight, in doing us good. His people, after their dismission from Babylon, laboured under many difficulties in rebuilding their city and temple; yet, through the good providence of God, they surmounted all. Thus shall we meet with many obstructions before we arrive at the Paradise above: but God will regard us as trees of righteousness, and “will plant us in that land assuredly with his whole heart and with his whole soul.” Who then shall defeat his efforts, or disappoint his aim? “If God be for us, who can be against us?” In vain shall earth and hell be confederate against us; for “hath he said, and will he not do it? hath he spoken, and will he not make it good?” He will never cease to work, till he has fulfilled in us all his good pleasure, and “perfected that which concerneth us:” “he will keep us by his own power through faith unto salvation.”]

We may observe from hence,

1. How suitable is the way of salvation!

[Foolish and ignorant men would be better pleased with a gospel that left them to earn, either wholly or in part, their own salvation. But, alas! how ill adapted would such a Gospel be to us, who are “insufficient of ourselves even to think a good thought!” How much more suitable is the promise in the text, wherein God undertakes to do every thing in us, and for us! Let us then receive thankfully what God offers freely. Let us embrace “a covenant that is ordered in all things and sure;” and rejoice in serving God, who so rejoices in saving us.]

2. What effectual care is taken that we should not turn the grace of God into licentiousness!

[There are, it must be acknowledged, some who abuse this doctrine, (for what is there, however excellent, which men will not abuse?) and take occasion from it to rest in n state of worldliness and sloth. But the very promise gives us a sufficient antidote against the poison it is supposed to convey: it tells us indeed, that God will keep us from departing from him; but it tells us also, that he will do this by “putting his fear into our hearts.” This destroys at once all delusive hopes; inasmuch as it shews us, that, if we be not living habitually in the fear of God, we are actually departed from him, and consequently can have no ground whatever to expect salvation at his hands. Let the carnal and slothful professor of religion well consider this. His abuse of this promise cannot invalidate its truth; but it may deceive his soul to his eternal ruin. Be it ever remembered, that the very same fear which God puts into our hearts in our first conversion, must continue to operate, and that too with increasing activity, to the end of our lives and, that we have no longer any reason to think our past experience to be scriptural, than while we cultivate that fear, and endeavour to “walk in it all the day long.” We do not mean that every occasional backsliding should subvert our hopes; but, if ever the fear of God cease to be the leading principle in our hearts, or to stimulate us to further attainments in holiness, we may be sure that we have deceived our own souls, and that our religion is vain. May God keep us all from such a fatal delusion for his mercy’s sake!]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 32:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/jeremiah-32.html. 1832.

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