Jeremiah 5:20


Three forms of evil are rebuked here.

I. THE DULNESS OF SPIRITUAL SENSIBILITY THAT FAILS TO DISCERN THE DIVINE MEANING OF NATURE. Israel and Judah are addressed as a "foolish people, without understanding," etc. Their crimes and sorrows sprang in great part out of their blindness and thoughtlessness (Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 5:12, 13). They would not use even the powers of spiritual discernment they possessed. They perceived not the Divine presence in natural things - the sounding shore, the revolving seasons - so as to bow with adoring reverence before it. Few things are stranger or sadder than the insensibility of the spirits of men to the Divine in nature. "They have eyes, but do not see" the "invisible things" of the Great Creator "through the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." They must be startled into the recognition of the present God. When some event out of the ordinary course occurs, they stand in awe before it, but in the familiar round of nature they find nothing Divine. We are all more or less open to this charge. The earthquake, the lightning flash, the hurricane, set us thinking of the majesty of him who wields such mighty forces at his will; but we forget the still more marvelous exercise of power that maintains the silent harmony of the spheres, holds the due balance of earth and sea, chases away the darkness of the night by the gently spreading dawn of every new morning, brings the grass blades and the flowers up out of the cold sod, ripens the fruit upon the trees, and changes the green carpet of the springing corn into the golden glory of the harvest. Of course it cannot be expected that any incident in the familiar daily round of nature should produce precisely the same effect on us as some new and startling phenomenon. The glory of the setting sun, that we have gazed upon a thousand times before, must needs be less to us in this respect than that of some flaming meteor that bursts suddenly upon the darkness and is gone. But it is deeply significant of the dullness of our spiritual sensibility that we can gaze so often on the world of wonders around us without being solemnly impressed with the presence of the living God.

II. THE SELF-WILL THAT SPURNS THE DIVINE CONTROL. A contrast is here drawn between the subjection of the great sea to the laws God's will has imposed on it, and the bounds his hand has drawn around it, and the insubordination of the rebellious spirit of man. It is a grand expression of Divine power in the material realm that the sea-shore presents. We are impressed with the majestic force of the rolling tide, but, after all, there is something still more wonderful in the solid strength of the belt of sand that resists and restrains it. (Even as the moral strength of a man is seen not so much in the ungoverned fury of his passions, as in the calm resolution that controls them.) The sea is subject to restraint; not so the wayward spirit of man. The sea, in its wildest raging, obeys the laws that are imposed on it, and "its own appointed limits keeps;" but the rebellious heart of man defies all authority other than its own impulses. How deep the mystery of this difference between material and spiritual forces! How awful the prerogative of a being on whom God has conferred a moral freedom like his own! He will never violate that freedom in any of his dealings with us; that were to destroy the very nature he has given. But in proportion to the dignity of the self-determining power, so dreadful must be the penalty of abusing it.

III. THE INGRATITUDE THAT YIELDS NO RETURN OF LOVE FOR THE DIVINE BENEFICENCE. It was an aggravation of the guilt of Israel that they were as unmoved by the perpetual manifestation of the goodness of God as they were by the revelations of his power. Even that did not lead them to repentance or teach them to fear him. Few evidences of the thoughtful goodness of God have been more conspicuous through all the ages than the beneficent round of the seasons. In spite of all the wickedness of man's ways, "he left not himself without witness, in that he did good," etc. (Acts 14:17). The appeal this great fact makes to the consciences and hearts of men is specially forcible as bearing on those whose calling is to be fellow-workers with God in developing the harvests of the earth. "Labor is a sublime necessity," not as a mere "necessity," but because of its moral meaning and moral uses. And of all physical labor, the husbandry of the earth is most rich in moral associations, as educating men to lowly dependence on God, and grateful devotion to him in response to his fatherly providence and long-suffering grace. Learn - As all Divine manifestations speak to us alike of infinite power and infinite beneficence, so the result in us should be the blended affections of fear and love. - W.









O foolish people, and without understanding.
The text is part of a message which was to be declared in the house of Jacob, and published in Israel. It shows that three results were produced by self-assertion against the rule of God; will the same cause produce the same effect? Let us see the results of self-will as shown in the text, and compare them with the testimony of our own experience.

I. SELF-WILL IN RELATION TO THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT DESTROYS THE NATURAL CAPACITIES AND FACULTIES OF MAN. "Foolish people, without understanding," etc. How different this description to the original portraiture of man! Foolish, blind, deaf — such is man when he has turned his back upon God, and taken life into his own hands. It would seem as if all the faculties of our nature were dependent for continuance upon their religious use; moral paralysis is equivalent to intellectual stagnation; not to pray is to die. Is it not much the same as if a flower should be shut out from the light and dew? The soul is, so to speak, withdrawn from the source of its being — cut off from the fountain of life, and allowed to exhaust its little resources, to languish in loneliness, and to die of hunger. If, then, we leave God, how soon does our poverty come as an armed man, and our want as one that travaileth? We shall most clearly see how the natural faculties of man are impaired, and indeed destroyed, by irreligion, by considering that the same truth holds good in the ordinary business of life, — separation from God means folly, blindness, and general incapacity, even in earthly things. Take the case of our daily bread, and see how the doctrine is sustained. Let any man set aside God's plan of obtaining daffy bread, and call upon his own genius to supply it; let the earth remain uncultivated; let the seed remain unsown: can it be doubted that the insane man would soon be taught by famine what he would not learn from reason or infer from revelation? There is no violence in transferring the argument from the body to the soul: on the contrary, such transference would seem to be a logical necessity; for if God is essential to the inferior, is He not essential to the superior? If man cannot do the less, how can he do the greater? A man who would not eat bread because he could not make his own will dominant through every detail of the process of germination would be pitied or despised; yet men who cannot by their own will or power make one grain of corn for the support of the body are often found resenting God's offers of enlightenment and guidance of the soul! What wonder that God should call upon the heavens to be astonished and the earth to be horribly afraid? And what wonder, repelled and dishonoured as He is, that He should say: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land," etc. Think of God sending a famine upon the soul, — of minds pining and dying because Divine messages have been withdrawn! We know what the effect would be if God were to withhold the dew, or to trouble the air with a plague, or to avert the beams of the sun: the garden would be a desert, the fruitful field a sandy plain, the wind a bearer of death, summer a stormy night, and life itself a cruel variation of death, — so penetrating, so boundless is the influence of God in nature. Is it conceivable that the withdrawment of God's influence would be less disastrous upon the spirit of man? Out of God there is no true being; the spasm, the convulsion, which is mistaken for existence is an impious sarcasm upon life.

II. SELF-WILL IN RELATION TO THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT PLUNGES THE SOUL INTO IRREVERENCE. The "fear" spoken of (ver. 22) may be taken as expressive of homage, veneration, and, in fact, everything that enters into a complete idea of worship. The destruction of veneration may be regarded as the final triumph of self-will. There is a very simple philosophy of spiritual retrogression. It turns upon man's self-magnifying power, and his consequent ambition for self-government. He says: "If there be a God, He is at all events unseen; I am the highest power that comes within the cognisance of my own senses; other beings, such as demons and angels, have been spoken of; but they are fictions of genius, dreams of ill-regulated minds; I am king, I am god." This is the natural creed of Sight, and it has many virtual subscribers. Now, it is to the senses themselves that God addresses the appeal of the text. He would appoint the ocean as umpire in the great controversy. Look, He says in effect, at the sea: it is bounded by the sand; its great fury cannot prevail against the limit which I have appointed: can you enlarge the decree which determinates the movement of the deep? Can you beat back the waves, or silence the roar of the billows? Stand by the seashore, then, and learn that there is a will higher than your own, a power which could crush your puny arm; listen, and let your soul hear a voice mightier than man's; incline your ear, and let the spirit hear the going of God upon the quiet or troubled waves; reflect, wonder, bow down, and worship.

III. SELF-WILL DISSOCIATES THE GIFTS OF NATURE FROM THE GIVER (ver. 24). Revolted man will accept the rain because he cannot live without it, but the Giver will not be so much as named; the corn will be gathered, but those who bear the sheaves will have no harvest hymn for God. How rapid, tumultuous, fatal is the course of moral revolt! The purpose of God was evidently to have His Name identified with the common mercies of life, that our very bread and water might remind us constantly of His gentle and liberal care. He was not to be confided to purely spiritual contemplation, to be the subject of the soul's dream when lost in high reverie, or to be thought of as a Being far off, enclosed within the circle of the planets, or throned in the unapproachable palaces of an undiscovered universe: He desires to be seen spreading our table in the wilderness, causing the earth to bring forth and bud for our benefit, turning our weary feel towards the water springs, and nourishing us in the time of weakness. Men may eat unblessed bread, and be bodily the stronger for it, but it is a sore and lasting reproach to the soul. The course of moral revolt ends in this, ends in the deposition of God and in the worship of self. Man ploughs, sows, reaps, and considers all the influences which cooperate in the production of results as mere features of inanimate nature existing and working apart altogether from intelligent or moral will. The universe becomes a stupendous machine; they who get good crops have used the machine skilfully, and they whose fields are fruitless have misunderstood or misapplied the machine. The universe was designed to be the temple, the very coveting, of God; but the worship of self has wrought a bad transfiguration upon it, and now the thief, the unclean beast, and the lying prophet prevail on every hand. The demoralisation of man may have a mischievous effect upon nature itself. We sometimes speak of a bad harvest: what if behind it there has been a bad life? When the heart is right towards God, God will not withhold His blessing from the earth: "Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee: then shall the earth yield her increase." Physical blessing will follow spiritual worship; no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly. In the light of these statements we have a double view of the unity of the moral and material systems of government. One view is from the human side: when man sins, commits a trespass in the spiritual region, he finds the result of his sin in the physical department; the reflection of his spiritual misrule is seen in dried fountains and fruitless fields, in devastating storms and fatal plagues; the universe takes up arms in defence of law. Another view is from the Divine side. God shows favour upon the earth for reasons derived from the spiritual character of the people, and demonstrates the superiority of the soul over the body by making its condition the measure of His material benefactions. How terrific, how hopeless, then, is the condition of the sinner!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. WHAT GOD HAS DONE TO PRODUCE PIOUS CONSIDERATION.

1. He has given powers of mind adapted to it. Eyes — to see, discern, read, etc. Ears — to hearken, messengers of truth. Understanding — to know, weigh, reflect, etc.

2. He has given us the means to answer to these powers. His Word, His servants, His providence, etc.

3. He has given us His Holy Spirit — to strive, convince, etc.

II. THE INDIFFERENCE MEN OFTEN EXHIBIT.

1. The indifference of some is total, without any concern. Live stocks and stones.

2. Others are considerate only of the externals of religion.

3. The consideration of some is only to the intellectual parts of the truth. A mental study; philosophical attention; such as they give to literature.

4. The consideration of others is occasional. Under very arousing discourses, providences, sickness, bereavements, etc.

III. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS INDIFFERENCE.

1. It is extremely foolish. Moral insanity.

2. Detrimental to the soul. Makes it blind, deaf; robs it of spiritual food and enjoyment; degrades it.

3. Specially offensive to God. Rebellion. Gratitude.

4. Must end in the soul's ruin. No moral fitness without devout consideration.Application —

1. Examine and test yourselves.

2. Seek the quickening influences of the Divine Spirit.

3. Be resolved and wise now, lest you perish.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord.
I. ARGUMENT FROM GOD'S GOVERNMENT OF THE SEA.

1. Suited to impress man with an idea of —(1)Infinite power.(2)Consummate wisdom.(3)Special goodness.Two fold —

(a)Negatively, in checking the threatening invasion of the sea;

(b)Affirmatively, in giving rain, etc.

2. Man's revolting tendencies.(1) God has prescribed the bounds of man's actions and thoughts by befitting laws. As the sea has bounds, so there are limits to every finite being.(2) To overstep these limits is rebellion against the Great Lawgiver.(3) Man has revolted, differing in this from the sea.(4) Man can do what the sea cannot.

(a)Man has a heart, the sea has not; a will power.

(b)This power in man has been prostituted to evil.

II. ARGUMENT FROM GOD'S BESTOWMENT OF THE HARVEST.

1. Until the Gospel was communicated to the world, attentive observance of the dispensation of providence was the principal means whereby God's Spirit drew the Gentiles to Himself, and led them to piety and obedience.(1) It was the religion of nature (Acts 14:15-17; Romans 1:19, 20).(2) From God's works alone, His being, power, mercy, may be fully and satisfactorily proved, without the advantages of revelation.

2. Although we enjoy the full light of the glorious Gospel, we can never too closely keep in mind the fact that all things we see and enjoy are ordained by God.(1) We have less need than the heathen to learn about God from His outward and visible works.(2) Yet we are beholden to His providence for all essential natural blessings.(3) Nothing in nature could reach maturity but for the fatherly care of God.

3. From the natural events around us we may —(1) Learn diligence in our spiritual concerns, that the Word of Life may ripen in our hearts.(2) Pray that the heavenly Sower will not pass us by in barrenness.(3) When observing the tender blade, reflect on the weakness of our advance in piety, and entreat Him who tempers all the elements to "work all things together for our good."(4) When the harvest hour is nigh, let us think how short our time is, and pray that we may not be found blasted or unfruitful.

(Bp. Heber.)

I. HE COMPLAINS OF THE SHAMEFUL STUPIDITY OF THIS PEOPLE.

1. Their understandings were darkened. Possessing intellectual faculties and capacities, they did not employ and improve them.

2. Their wills were stubborn: not submit to rules of Divine law.

II. HE ASCRIBES THIS TO THE WANT OF THE FEAR OF GOD.

1. If you keep up awe of God you will be observant of what He says.

2. Because we neglect to stir up our wills to holy awe of God we are so apt to rebel.

III. HE SUGGESTS SOME THINGS PROPER TO POSSESS US WITH A HOLY FEAR OF GOD.

1. We must fear the Lord and His greatness. He keeps and manages the sea.(1) By this we see His universal sovereignty; therefore to be had in reverence.(2) This shows how easily He could drown the world again by withdrawing His "decree"; therefore we lie continually at His mercy, and should fear to make Him our enemy.(3) Even the unruly waves obey Him neither revolt not rebel; why, then, should our hearts?

2. We must fear the Lord, and His goodness.

(1)Because He is always doing us good.

(2)Because these blessings are consequent upon His promise.

(3)Because we have such a necessary dependence upon Him.

( M. Henry, D. D.)

Which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea.
1. The more blessings they enjoyed, the more thankful they should have been.

2. Having rejected God spiritually, He yet continued to manifest Himself to them in nature.

3. Gratitude to God for the fruits of the seasons is a common ground on which to argue effectually even with the darkest heathen.

4. The heathen are denied excuse for their ignorance and idolatry, because of the marks of God's love and power in the world around them.

5. Yet the heathen, in outward forms at least, surpassed Jews and Christians.

6. There was, then, great sin on the part of Israel when, even as natural men, they ignored the mercies of God's ordinary providence, and were not softened and converted by His unmerited goodness.

7. A bounteous season ought to awaken love and thankfulness to God.

8. God is exceedingly jealous of the honour due unto His name.

9. The eye is blind to God in natural wonders, and the ear deaf amid His works, because the heart has not embraced Him in the Gospel of His Son.

(J. Garbett, M. A.)

Homilist.
1. God is the Author and Governor of the sea.

2. God binds the sea within certain limits by law.

3. God's laws are permanent till He wills a change "by a perpetual decree."

4. God is ever prevent in His laws and contrivances.

5. God's presence in the laws of the sea, as well as in every other law, should have a restraining and reverencing influence upon men.

I. GOD'S GOVERNMENT OF THE SEA. Suited to impress man with an idea of —

1. Infinite power.

2. Consummate wisdom.

3. Special goodness.

II. MAN'S REVOLTING TENDENCIES.

1. God has prescribed the bounds of man's actions and thoughts by befitting laws. Love to God and man.

2. To overstep these limits is rebellion against the great Lawgiver. When thoughts are unholy and imagination irreverent, the soul has overstepped its proper limits, and is in rebellion against its Creator.

3. Man has overstepped his proper limits, and therefore rebelled. "They are revolted and gone." Differing in this from the sea.

4. Man can do what the sea can not, namely, overstep his proper limits and transgress the laws of his being.(1) Man has a heart. The sea has not. Man has a will power — a power to act to a great extent as he likes.(2) This power in man has been prostituted to evil. Man, morally, has lost his equilibrium, his heart has become rebellious; and heart rebellion is the source of all rebellions — of hand and head rebellions. Conclusion —

1. God must govern heart and will by heart and will influences.

2. It is easier for God to rule suns and systems and oceans than one man, because he has a heart, and a rebellious one.

3. Man, as a rebel, contrasts unfavourably with the material creation — the earth and sea, etc. God notices this with a painful emotion. "Fear ye not Me," etc.

(Homilist.)

Homiletic Magazine.
Take a handful of sand up; and how easily it filters through the fingers. This slippery sand is part of God's wall against the sea. By agglomeration it is strong. The restraining of the waters has made the earth habitable. Every coastline, however indented, flat, or rocky, has been traced by that Hand which "gave to the sea its decree."

I. There are NATURAL LAWS which are, like the boundaries of the sea, not to be passed. We all know what would be the result if the force of gravitation did not hold us in our place on the earth's surface, or if we determined to ignore the law by leaping from a precipice. There are also laws of health which restrain us. We can easily damage our physical frame by neglect. Pains we must then endure, compelling to obedience.

II. In SOCIETY we have limits, bounds and restraints which are of greatest value. The opinions of our fellows are restraints. Laws are the bounds within which the moral would secure the immoral. The good man fears them not, because he has no wish to break them. He values them, because they protect him from the lawless.

III. There are in KNOWLEDGE certain limits and bounds which are of great value. Those who think deeply are the most conscious of this. Let us be thankful for such bounds. Let us remember what ennui and pride would follow if we could know all. Further, where would be the need for faith — that noblest act of the soul? Let us be humble. What is all we know, compared with what God has to reveal to us? Let us seek to become more fitted to pass beyond the limitations of the present, and to appreciate more the widening of our sphere of knowledge in the future world.

IV. As the sea has its bounds, so has LIFE its limits. Decay and death must come sooner or later. Hearts can beat only a determined number of times, even as a watch, when once wound up, can go only a certain time. Every tick brings it nearer to the last beat. When the spring runs down, another beat cannot be got out of it. What are man's years to immortality? (Job 14:5). There is wisdom in this decree. If men were to live beyond a certain point they would be hindrances; and if there were no death, men would be altogether forgetful of God their Judge.

V. We may apply the text to the TRIALS to which man is subjected. God sets bounds to them. He will not allow us to be crushed or swamped. He knows what we can bear, and how much is good for us. Murmur not. Trust in Him. He can deliver, check, remove the restraints, hindrances, and trials, and even bring blessing out of them.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

God rules the waves, not Britannia.

(John Newton.)

By the mouth of His prophet, Jeremiah, God upbraids His people for their impiety; but it is worthy of notice that He reproaches them not for their forgetfulness of His miraculous deliverances, but for their heedlessness of His regular kindness to them. It is not that they are neglecting Him who saved them from the wrath of the Egyptians by the marvels of the Red Sea passage; it is that they are failing to honour Him who has always been keeping the sea in its bed.

I. GOD'S CONSTANT KINDNESS TO US.

1. In keeping in check the destructive forces upon the earth (ver. 22). The sea at rest, kept within its bounds, is an object of surpassing beauty; its surface is the great highway of the nations. But when it breaks its bounds, it causes terrible destruction. As with the sea, so with the air. The pure air we breathe is life itself; the soft breeze is refreshment and invigoration; the wind aids us in our industries and carries our ships across the water. But the cyclone, the hurricane, is danger, destruction, death. The occasional storm reminds us of the continuance from week to week of that balance in the atmospheric forces which the wisdom and the power of God sustain, and which makes possible and practicable our pleasant lives. This also holds with the interior of the earth. Beneath a thin crust of rock are stored and hidden great central fires. What if they were loosened! The earthquake and the volcano are the reminders that there are forces beneath our feet and of which we have no control whatever; but a mightier hand than ours has shut them in, and keeps us in safety and in peace.

2. In putting into exercise productive powers (ver. 24). God has been fulfilling His promise, and neither seedtime nor harvest has failed from the earth. There have come droughts and storms: our trust and our patience have been tried; our intellectual resources have been developed, and our character has been disciplined thereby; adverse material conditions have been strengthening and quickening our manhood; the culture of the field has been the culture of the race; the method of God's giving has greatly enhanced the value of His gift. Divine wisdom has accompanied Divine bounty at every step.

II. OUR HUMAN RESPONSE. Too often it has been —

1. That which is our reproach. Men have taken everything from the God of their life, and they, have —(1) Denied His existence; or(2) Questioned His interest in His children's well-being; or(3) Practically disregarded the operation of His hand, and rendered Him no thanks; or(4) Contented themselves with bare formalities from which all genuine feeling has been left out. But prophet and psalmist and apostle invite us to a response —

2. Which is becoming and acceptable.(1) Reverence. "Fear ye not Me?" Have we no adoration for this Lord of all power and wisdom, who keeps the sea in its place and who covers the barren soil with a golden harvest?(2) Gratitude. Shall we not "bless the Lord," who "filleth our mouth with good things"?(3) Service. He who gives us the bread which nourishes our body has placed us under a far greater obligation in that He has given us the Bread of Life. Eating of the one, we live a lower life for "a few more years"; but partaking of the other, we live the larger and higher life for evermore (John 6:58).

(C. Clarkson, B. A.)

The majesty of God, as displayed in creation and providence, ought to stir up our hearts in adoring wonder and melt them down in willing obedience to His commands. The almighty power of Jehovah, so clearly manifest in the works of His hands, should constrain us, His creatures, to fear His name and prostrate ourselves in humble reverence before His throne. The contemplation of the marvellous works which He doth upon "the great and wide sea," where He tosseth the waves to and fro, and yet keepeth them in their ordained courses, should draw forth our devoutest emotions, and I could almost say, inspire us with homage. Have these great things of God, these wondrous works of His, no lesson to teach us? Do they not while declaring His glory reveal our duty? Our poets, both the sacred and the uninspired, have feigned consciousness to those inanimate agents that they might the more truthfully represent their honourable service. But if because we are intelligent beings, we withhold our allegiance from our rightful Sovereign, then our privileges are a curse, and our glory is a shame. We might learn, even without the written oracles of Scripture, that we ought to obey God, if our foolish hearts were not so darkened; thus unbelief of the Almighty Creator is a crime of the first magnitude. If it were a petty sovereign against whom ye rebelled, it might be pardonable; if He were a man like yourselves, ye might expect that your faults would easily find forgiveness; but since He is the God who reigns alone where clouds and darkness are round about Him, the God to whom all nature is obedient, and whose high behests are obeyed both in heaven and in hell, it becomes a crime, the terrible character of which words cannot portray, that you should ever sin against a God so marvellously great. The greatness of God enhances the greatness of our sin. I believe this is one lesson which the prophet intended to teach us by the text. But while it is a lesson, I do not think it is the lesson of the text. There is something else which we are to learn from it. God here contrasts the obedience of the strong, the mighty, the untamed sea, with the rebellious character of His own people. The doctrine of the text seems to be this — that without supernatural means God can make all creatures obedient save man; but man is so disobedient in his heart, that only some supernatural agency can make him obedient to God, while the simple agency of sand can restrain the sea, without any stupendous effort of Divine power more than He ordinarily puts out in nature: He cannot thus make man obedient to His will. Now, look back into history, and see if it has not been so. What has been a greater problem, if we may so speak concerning the Divine mind, than that of restraining men from sin? How many restraints God has put upon man! "But what of this fact?" — you say — "we know it is true; verified in your own ease. Come, now, I want to ask of you, whether it cannot be said of you truly, "The sea is bound by sand; but I am one of those people who are bent on revolting from God, neither can any of His restraints keep me from sin." Let us review the various restraints which God has put upon His people to keep them from sins which, nevertheless, are altogether ineffectual, without the accompanying power of grace.

1. Then, remember there is a restraint of gratitude which, to the lowly regenerated heart, must necessarily form a very strong motive to obedience. I ask thee, O saint, viewing thy sins as sins against love and mercy, against covenant promises, covenant oaths, covenant engagements, ay, and covenant fulfillments, is not thy sin a desperate thing, and art not thou thyself a rebellious and revolting being, seeing that thou canst not be restrained by such a barrier of adamant as thy soul acknowledges? Next notice, that the saint has not only this barrier against sin, but many others.

2. He has the whole of God's Word given him by way of warning; its pages he is accustomed to read; he reads there, that if he break the statutes and keep not the commandments of the Lord, his Father will visit his transgressions with a rod, and his iniquity with stripes. And yet, O Christian, against all warning and against all precept, thou darest to sin. Oh! art thou not a rebellious creature, and mayest thou not humble thyself at the thought of the greatness of thine iniquity?

3. Again, the saint sins against his own experience. When he looks back upon his past life he finds that sin has always been a loss to him; he has never found any profit, but has always lost by it. Will you put the poisoned goblet to your lips again? Yes, you will; but because you do so in the teeth of your experience, it ought to make you weep, that you should be such desperate rebels against such a loving God, who has put not merely a barrier of sand, but a barrier of tried steel to keep in your lusts, and yet they will break forth; verily, ye are a rebellious and revolting people.

4. Then again, God guards all His children with providence, in order to keep them from sin. Ah! strange things happen to some of us. It was only a providence which on some solemn occasion, to which you never look back without regret, saved you from sin which would have been a scab on your character. Bless God for that! But remember, notwithstanding the girdlings of His providence, how many times you have offended; and let the frequency of your sin remind you that you must indeed be a rebellious creature.

5. Yet, once more let me remind you, that the ordinances of God's house are all intended to be checks to sin. Bow down your heads with shame while ye consider your ways, and then lift up your hearts, Christians, in adoring love, that He has kept you when your feet were making haste to hell, where you would have gone, but for His preserving grace. Will you not pray, that God should not cast you away, nor take His Holy Spirit from you, though you are a rebellious creature, and though you have revolted against Him?

II. Apply it to SINNERS. Come, then, sinner; in the first place, I bid thee consider thy guilt. The mighty ocean is kept in obedience by God, and restrained within its channel by simple sand; and thou, a pitiful worm, the creature of a day, the ephemera of an hour, thou art a rebel against God. The sea obeys Him; thou dost not. Consider how many restraints God has put on thee: He has not checked thy lusts with sand but with beetling cliffs; and yet thou hast burst through every bound in the violence of thy transgressions. Perhaps He has checked thy soul by the remembrance of thy guilt. Thou hast felt thyself a despiser of God; or if not a despiser, thou art a mere hearer, and hast no part nor lot in this matter. Dost thou not remember thy sins in the face of thy mother's counsels and thy father's strong admonitions? Thou knowest the threatenings of God; it is no new tale to thee, when I warn thee that sinners must be condemned. Consider, then, how great is thy guilt; thou hast sinned against light and knowledge; thou art not the Hottentot sinner, who sins in darkness; thou hast not sinned ignorantly, thou hast done it when thou knewest better. Some of you have had other things. Don't you remember, some little time ago, when sickness was rife, you were stretched on your bed? Methinks I see you; you turned your face to the wall, and you cried, "O God, if Thou wilt save my life, I will give myself to Thee!" Perhaps it was an accident; thou didst fear that death was very near; the terrors of death laid hold of thee, and thou didst cry, "O God, let me but reach home in safety, and my bended knees and my tears pouring in torrents, shall prove that I am sincere in the vow I make!" But didst thou perform that vow? Nay, thou hast sinned against God; thy broken vows have gone before thee to judgment.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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