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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Jeremiah 5

 

 

Verse 23-24

DISCOURSE: 1039

GOD’S BOUNTIES, AND OUR INGRATITUDE

Jeremiah 5:23-24. This people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart. They are revolted and gone: neither say they in. their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

AS Ministers of the Gospel, our chief employment is to open to you the hidden mystery of Redemption, and to present for your acceptance “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Yet there are times and seasons when we must assume somewhat of the sterner aspect of the prophets; and, in the name of our Divine Master, address you in the language of reproof. The Jews, no doubt, were a stiff-necked people, and needed to be reproved in terms of the greatest severity Would to God that we, under our more liberal dispensation, were not obnoxious also to the same charge! But really, the commission given to the prophet is far from being unsuitable to us at this time, or improper to be executed towards you: “Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; who have eyes, and see not; who have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people have a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone: neither say they in their heart, Let us fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”

In these words the prophet reproves the Jews,

I. For their contempt of God’s authority—

They were indeed “a rebellious and gainsaying people [Note: Romans 10:21.]”—

[God had chosen them for his own peculiar people; and had given them his law, written with his own hand on tables of stone. But from the very beginning they were a rebellious people, casting off their allegiance to God, and revolting from him, to the service of “gods that could not profit nor deliver them.” And though God called them to him by a succession of prophets, “they refused to return to him;” yea, “so bent were the whole nation to backslide from God, that none at all would exalt him [Note: Hosea 11:5; Hosea 11:7.].”]

And “what are we better than they [Note: Romans 3:9.]?”

[God has given to us also his Law. And who amongst us obeys it? Who desires to obey it? Who really, and in truth, endeavours to obey it? What, if we do not bow down to stocks and stones; do we not, in fact, “love and serve the creature more than the Creator,” even as they did [Note: Romans 1:25.]? Who amongst us either abstains from any act, purely because it would displease God; or performs any act, purely from a desire to please him? I grant, we may abstain from many evils, and perform many duties; but by what motive are we impelled? We shall find that our own gratification, or the approbation of man, has a far stronger influence on our minds than any consideration of God’s favour; and that in “the spirit of our mind” we are as much revolted from God as over the Jews themselves were — — —

But God has given to us his Gospel also, saying, Whatever contempt they have shewn to Moses and the prophets, “they will reverence my Son.” But have we obeyed his voice, and “taken upon us his light and easy yoke?” No, indeed: we have been as regardless of Christ as if he had never come into the world. “We have indeed called him Lord; but we have not done the things which he has said [Note: Luke 6:46.].” Say, my Brethren, whether we have “fled to him for refuge,” as the only Saviour of our souls? Say, whether we have surrendered up ourselves to him as his devoted followers, and made it the one labour of our lives to “glorify him with our body and our spirit, which are his [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:20.]?” Look at all around you, and see whether this be their state: and then look within, and let conscience tell you whether it be your own state: and, if it be not, then is the reproof in my text merited by you, far more than by the Jews themselves; inasmuch as you sin against greater light, and far richer mercies than they.]

God was ever endeavouring to reclaim his people: yet did his mercies only serve to mark their ingratitude, and bring reproof upon them,

II. For their insensibility to his love—

Not all the mercies vouchsafed unto them could bring them to a better mind—

[God had promised them a supply of all temporal blessings, if they would serve him with diligence and fidelity. And notwithstanding they violated their obligations continually, he still imparted to them the blessings they had so justly forfeited, sending thorn rain and fruitful seasons, as if they had not offended him at all. And what did he expect in return for these mercies? He doubtless expected, that, from a sense of gratitude for such unmerited kindness, they would reform their lives, and devote themselves to his service. But, behold, they still continued their disobedience; and “none of them said in their hearts, Let us fear the Lord our God, who has done such great things for us,” This was a great aggravation of their guilt, and could not fail to bring down upon them God’s heavy displeasure — — —]

And what effect, let me ask, have God’s mercies produced on us?

[Behold, in his mercy he has now “sent us rain [Note: Deuteronomy 11:13-15.],” which we so greatly needed, and has given us a prospect of a “harvest;” when, if the drought had continued much longer, we should have been reduced to a state of extreme scarcity or famine, And what does God expect at our hands, but that we say one to another, Let us now fear the Lord our God, who has vouchsafed to us this seasonable relief [Note: See Joel 2:23-27.]? Surely this is not more than the occasion calls for. But is this the way in which we are now requiting God for his mercies? Is this the feeling of men in general? Has it been the feeling of our own hearts? Have we humbled ourselves before him? and has “the goodness of our God led us to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4.]?” — — —

But what shall I say, if I put the question in reference to spiritual blessings? God has given to us, not merely “the bread that perisheth, but that also which eudureth unto everlasting life”. And not only has he sent us rain to refresh and fructify the parched ground, but he has sent us also his Holy Spirit, to revive and fertilize our barren souls. Whatever may be said of less-favoured places, I trust we have reason to acknowledge the bounties of heaven in these respects. What, then, should be the state of our minds? Should not we be penetrated with a sense of gratitude to God? Should not we determine for ourselves, and stimulate one another to fear and serve him? Yea, might we not expect that the very stones should cry out against us, if we neglected to express our gratitude in this way? But how is it with us? Where are the persons who are so impressed? Where are the persons who are so exercised? Where are the persons who thus “fear the Lord and his goodness [Note: Hosea 3:5.]?” Alas! alas! We may condemn the Jews for their obstinacy; but sure I am we have far greater reason to condemn ourselves as the most ungrateful of men, when not even the mercy of redemption itself has been able to bring us effectually to our God — — —]

And now, what shall I say unto you? Two requests I would make:

1. Mark the dealings of God with you—

[Mark those which relate to you as members of the community at large; for in those you are deeply interested: let not the gift of rain, or genial seasons, and of abundant harvests, be overlooked, because they are common; but let them all lead you in devout thankfulness to your God. And mark still more especially his dealings with you as individuals, his mercies, and his judgments, of whatever kind they be; for they all have a voice to you, and may be improved to your spiritual and eternal good. Have you mercies? Let them incline you to a willing and unreserved surrender of yourselves to God [Note: Romans 12:1.], Have you judgments? “Hear the rod, and him that hath appointed it [Note: Micah 6:9.].” Only improve the providences that occur: and you shall never want a providence to improve.]

2. Cultivate the mind which God requires—

[He requires all to “fear and tremble at his presence [Note: ver. 21.].” And, I beseech you, account not that a legal and undesirable frame of mind. Indeed, indeed, it is the safest state for all of us. I would not undervalue exalted joys: but I confess I love most the religion of a sinner: I love humility and self-abasement: I love the fleeing to Christ, and the washing daily and hourly in the fountain of his blood. I love religion, under the character of holy fear; and I would have you to “be in the fear of the Lord all the day long.” Not that it is a slavish fear that I would recommend, or a fear that is constrained by an apprehension of God’s displeasure. No; it is a fear that proceeds from love; a fear that is inspired by a sense of gratitude, and that is dictated, as it were, by your own hearts; saying, “Come, let us fear the Lord our God,” who has done such great things for us. It is this, this cordial willingness, this impatient desire, that puts all the value into the disposition which I am now recommending to you. And be not contented to experience this fear in your own hearts, but endeavour to impress it on all around you. Let it grieve you to see the hardness and obduracy of all your neighbours: and take occasion from every mercy, whether temporal or spiritual, to stimulate all, even to the remotest ends of the earth, to love, and serve, and glorify their God.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/jeremiah-5.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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