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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Jeremiah 6

 

 

Verse 16

DISCOURSE: 1040

THE GOOD OLD WAY

Jeremiah 6:16. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

WHATEVER bears the stamp of antiquity upon it, finds, for the most part, a favourable reception in the world, while innovations are admitted with caution and reserve, The Gospel itself is often discarded under the idea that it is new. Even as far back as the days of Jeremiah, serious religion was deemed a novelty: but the prophet claimed the people’s regard to it, no less from the consideration of its antiquity than of its inherent excellence—

To elucidate the words before us, we shall inquire,

I. What is that old and good way here spoken of?

The explanation, which our Lord himself has given of this passage [Note: Matthew 11:28-29.], shews, that we are not to confine its import to holiness alone, but must understand it as comprehending,

1. A penitential affiance in God—

[Christ declares that he himself is “the way,” the only way to the Father [Note: John 14:6.]. To him we must come, trusting in his mediation and intercession, and looking for acceptance through him alone, Now this is certainly the old way, marked out by all the Jewish sacrifices, and trodden by Abel and our first parents. Nor can we doubt of its being the good way, since it was appointed of God himself, and has been approved by all his saints from the beginning of the world.]

2. A cheerful obedience to him—

[Our Lord expressly says, “Take my yoke upon you;” nor can this ever be dispensed with. Though faith in Christ be the way of acceptance with God, yet obedience to him is the only means of manifesting the sincerity of our faith. Hence holiness is by the prophet called, “The Lord’s highway [Note: Isaiah 35:8.].” This too is of great antiquity, and must be traced up through prophets and patriarchs to the days of “righteous Abel.” And it must be acknowledged to be good, since it tends so much to the perfecting of our nature, and to the adorning of our holy religion.]

This however is not a mere speculative point; as we shall see, if we inquire,

II. What is our duty with respect to it?

God having so plainly revealed it to us, it becomes us all,

1. To inquire after it—

[We should not go on in a presumptuous confidence that we are right; but should “stand and see,” and attentively consider whither we are going. We should “ask” of those whom God has appointed to be as way-marks to the people, and whose lips should both keep, and dispense, knowledge. Moreover we should search the sacred oracles (which, as a map, delineate our path with infallible precision) comparing with them the various steps we have taken, and noticing with care the footsteps of Christ and his Apostles. Not however trusting in our own researches, we should above all implore the teaching and direction of God’s holy Spirit, who would bring us back from our wanderings, and “guide our feet into the way of peace.”]

2. To walk in it—

[To possess knowledge will be of little service unless it produce a practical effect. Having found the right way we must come into it, renouncing every other path, how pleasant or profitable soever it may have been. Nor must we only get into it, but “walk therein” continually, neither diverted from it by allurements, nor discouraged in it by any difficulties. Whatever advances we may have made, we are still to prosecute the same path, trusting in Christ as our advocate with God, and rendering to him an uniform and unreserved obedience.]

Nor will this appear hard to us, if we consider,

III. The encouragement given us to perform this duty—

To those who are out of this way, whatever they may boast, we are sure there is no solid peace: but they who walk in it shall find rest,

1. In their way—

[Sweet is the rest which a weary and heavy-laden sinner finds in Jesus Christ: he sees in his blood a sufficiency of virtue to expiate all his guilt, and to cleanse him from all his sin: he perceives that the foundation of his hope is sure and immoveable; and therefore, “having peace in his conscience, he rejoices in hope of the glory of God.” In the way of holy obedience, he enjoys, moreover, a present and a great reward: for while he vests from turbulent passions and tormenting fears, he finds, that “the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever.”]

2. In their end—

[If the ungodly have no peace in this world, much less have they in the world to come: but the obedient believer will enjoy perfect rest, when he shall have ceased from his present labours. “There is a rest remaining for the people of God;” and such a rest as neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived: at the instant of their dismission from the body, they shall be borne on the wings of angels into the regions of the blest, and lie in the bosom of their Lord to all eternity.]

Address—

1. To those who disregard religion—

[You indeed may plead long prescription (even from the days of Cain) and general practice too, in favour of your habits: but do you doubt which is the better way? Do you not in your hearts envy those who walk in the good old way; and wish that you were able to live as they live? If then you would not persist in following a track, which you knew would lead to a place extremely distant from that which you were desirous to reach, attend to the warning now given, and turn unto God in the way marked out for you in his Gospel.]

2. To those who seek indeed the paths of religion, but find no rest in them—

[There are many who approve of coming to Christ for salvation, but wish to be excused from taking his yoke upon them; while others, on the contrary, would be content to render obedience to his law, if they might be at liberty to decline the humiliating method which he has prescribed for their acceptance with God. Others, again, profess to approve of the good old way; but cannot renounce the cares and pleasures of the world which retard their progress in it. No wonder then if such persons find no solid rest: indeed, it is well for them that they do not; since it would only deceive them to their eternal ruin. If we would have rest, either here or hereafter, it must be obtained in the way that has been pointed out; nor can it be obtained in any other to all eternity [Note: John 3:36. Hebrews 12:14.].]

3. To those who are walking comfortably in the good way—

[Be not contented to go to heaven alone; but labour in your respective spheres to bring others along with you. This was the disposition of the Church of old [Note: Song of Solomon 1:4.]; and should be the desire of all who have a hope towards God. It is scarcely to be conceived how much the exertions of Christians in their several families would extend the benefits of ministerial labours. The public ministration of the word would be far better attended, and incomparably more improved. Since then all are commanded to seek instruction, let all endeavour to communicate it [Note: If this were the subject of a Sermon for Charity Schools, the propriety of subscribing liberally for the support of such institutions might be stated here.]. So will the good way be more frequented; and more abundant blessings flow down on all who walk in it.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 6:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/jeremiah-6.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 24th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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