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Jeremiah was overwhelmed with the vastness of the commission ; he felt his own insignificance so poignantly, that in the language of complaint he said : “ Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak, for I am a child.” What was the return ?—“ Say not I am a child, for thou shalt go to all that I will send thee; and whatsoever I command thee, that thou shalt speak : be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee.” 6 And the LORD said unto me, I have put My Words in thy mouth, see I have set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build, and to plant. Thou, therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all, I command thee; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them; for behold I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land, and they* shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee, for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” The preceding verses inform us that this shall take place on the restoration of Israel, after their long captivity to the Land of Judah. « For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD, and they shall come, and shall get every one his throne at the entering in of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.” These kings and rulers are in the second Psalm represented as
* Jerusalem shall then be under foreign domination—a king shall “divide the land for gain,” and think to change times and laws." The representatives of all nations shall there congregate, and finally be destroyed with their idolatrous kings and priests.
entering into a confederacy against the restrictions of God's Law in the spirit of licencious liberty. The judgment of the Roman empire, under the figure of Edom, and the terrible overthrow of the congregated enemies of Israel, who are symbolised by Babylon, the reigning sorceress, deep in hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness, however exalted in privilege, was that most awful charge which Jeremiah received; sentence hath gone forth against the “ most proud," and only its execution remains for the glorification of Truth.
In like manner the Prophet Isaiah is admonished, that after the retributionary judgment upon the nations, “ The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD." "As for me this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD (viz. those who turn from transgression in Jacob). My Spirit that is upon thee, and My Words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed from henceforth for ever.”
Paul recognises this point of Israel's renewed history, when he says: “ Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom which cannot be removed, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire.” The law of the LORD, that holy emanation of his Wisdom and Power, is (Isaiah, xxxi. 9.) compared to a fire in Zion, and a furnace in Jerusalem. “ The Law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem," and rebuke many nations. Again—When the Lord is exalted on Mount Zion, “ He shall fill it with Judgment and Righteousness. Those who have the Father's Name on their forehead, and in whose mouth is no guile, who rather than resort to the crooked wiles of expediency to
save their lives, shall overcome in losing them for Christ's sake, this throng out of “ all the tribes of the children of Israel,” together with multitudes who have come out of great tribulation, being faithful to their Master, then enter, as it were, into their chamber, and shut out all fear of evil. The very same Righteousness and Holiness, which is a terror to the transgressor and hypocrite, is their place of refuge from the outward storm of retribution, which shall “fall grievously upon the wicked."
Transgressors in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who of us shall dwell with devouring fire?-Who of us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ? He that worketh righteousness, and speaketh uprightly, he shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure."
From Scripture has thus been set forth the inconceivable spirituality of the holy and good law of God, which the whole limit of analogy is too meagre to describe, and which reason and intellect are too feeble to comprehend; but which we shall understand when the multiform darkening mediums, and sordid hindrances, which influence mankind, shall be for ever done away; when “the wicked workers of iniquity,” as well as the “ peculiar people zealous of good works,” shall find their congenial hell and heaven in the same element.
The essence of the Divine character and law is Love; but what can burn so fiercely (against the despisers and rejecters of the great salvation, and the duties to which faith in it constrains) as slighted LOVE. Those who transgressed against the Truth which came by Moses, perished under two or three witnesses; of how much severer retribution shall they be accounted worthy who have perverted the grace which
came by Jesus Christ, into an occasion of transgressing the Truth which also came by him? The indignation of slighted love, and perverted grace, burns infinitely more fiercely against those who transgress now than on such as transgressed under the law, wherein was no power to make obedience delightful. They have to plead the merey of God in transgressing against His Truth, mercy is still open for them. It was for transgressors that Christ died; the just suffered for the unjust, that they might be healed; he bare the iniquity of Israel, who had all gone astray for ages. Is it said they did not believe in Him, how then could they be saved by Him? To this it is replied, that those sacrifices which they offered, were to them the pledge that they had part in the great atonement to which they pointed. Election for their Father's sakes, and because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, was not to be the reward of merit, or even of faith, but was to be a boon of grace; shall their unbelief make God's faithfulness of none effect ?-God forbid. It was for His Name's sake, independently of any condition on their part. But the aspect of the case changes on a change of circumstances. Christ is given on our part as a Redeemer, not only from the punishment due to sin, but also from any desire to transgress under such unmerited grace. Nothing that could have been done to constrain us to become righteous, and upright and obedient, and heavenlyminded, has been neglected ; and if we still bring forth only the thorns and thistles of will-worship and disobedience, what remains for us but burning indignation.
UNSCRIPTURAL CONSTRUCTIONS PUT ON
WICKEDNESS,” AND INIQUITY." It is a very startling consideration that these expressions, which are too commonly supposed to refer to gross sins, such as the mass of depraved human nature commit, are far otherwise applied throughout Scripture. Any departure from the commands of God, either to the right or the left, as well that spiritual evil which is above, as that gross evil which is below the righteous standard, is denominated wickedness and iniquity.
Spurious holiness, or love, or humility, are iniquity. The history of the first man demonstrates that life is in the Law-error and death in a desire to be above it. “ God is angry with the wicked every day, be they ever so pious, if they are not walking in the way of obedience. David saw the prosperity of the wicked with dismay; but in the Sanctuary he perceived that their temporary exaltation is but a means of precipitating them deeper to destruction. He says: “I was grieved because of the wicked who forsake thy law." 6. The curse of the LORD (due to transgressors), rests in the House of the wicked.” “ In the revenues of the wicked is trouble.” 6 the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.” hath changed my judgment unto wickedness Spiritual wickedness in high places.” “ I will pour out their wickedness upon them.” The LORD, by the prophet, calls the solemnities of the religious world of his day iniquity, which he was weary to bear. There was no subjection of the will, no love to God, constraining to a voluntary death, to self, and the world, and to a life of righteousness. Instead of being “ zealous of good works,” they were stigmatized as legal defilements. Our Lord was asked if few would be