Jeremiah 7:1

It was probably not the outer gate, but one of the gates which led from the outer to the inner or upper court (cf. Jeremiah 19:14; Jeremiah 26:10; Jeremiah 36:10). "From this point the prophet could view the whole assembly of the people in the outer court, as well as the gates leading from without into it' (Lange). Christ seems to have stood thus at times.

I. THE PREACHER OF TRUTH DOES WELL TO CHOOSE THE MOST IMPRESSIVE POSITIONS, OCCASIONS, AND CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE DELIVERY OF HIS MESSAGE. The great aim of the preacher is to get a hearing for what he has to say. Tact (to a certain degree), artistic juxtaposition and arrangement, sympathy with the spirit of the times, etc., are indispensable qualities to him who would give the Word of God bold and effective expression. Public occasions may, therefore, frequently be utilized for special services, etc. Passing movement and contemporary events may give fresh interest to permanent truth. A curious ingenuity is sometimes exhibited in making the preacher inconspicuous and reducing his office to a matter of routine. He ought always to feel that his message is an extraordinary one, requiring all the earnestness and effort of which he is capable to convey it with due effect. And even then it must have suffered at his hands, and in much he will be an unprofitable servant.

II. RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE MAY BE VERY FASHIONABLE, AND ALL BUT UNIVERSAL, WHERE THERE IS LITTLE REAL RELIGION. One has to distinguish between the outward and the inward, the religion of rite and ceremony and that of the heart. Here apparently the representatives of "all Judah" were assembled, and yet it was no sign of national piety, but rather the contrary. Instead of the carnal nature Being checked and corrected, it was directly fostered by such worship. Public worship is a phrase which often includes elements that have nothing to do with the worship of God. That the services of God's house should be chaste and attractive will be generally admitted. But architectural adornments, musical accessories of an ornate or merely artistic nature, displays of rhetoric, and similar additions to the essential character of the worship, may prove popular and entertaining, and yet be spiritually pernicious. In the case of Judah the whole worship was on a low intellectual and spiritual key. The gods of heathenism and Jehovah were worshipped alike, and the licentious rites of idolatry mingled with the sacrifices of the Law. This had resulted in the temple being polluted and becoming a "den of thieves." Our aims in worship, the purity and concentration of our hearts, the moral relation between our every-day life and our temple service, have all very intimately to do with the question of the value of public religious observances.

III. RIGHTEOUSNESS OUGHT TO BE PRELIMINARY TO WORSHIP. "Amend your ways and your doings" is the demand the prophet makes in proof of the genuineness of their worship. Religion is a matter of life, and not of showy observances and empty protestations. The best proof that we intend serving God is that we have already begun to do so in business and morals. This duty, although difficult, is the best preparation for exalted spiritual experiences and sincere adoration. Men are not fit to appear before God when their misdeeds are still being repeated and their moral habits are not under the influence of his Spirit.

IV. UNREAL WORSHIP OF GOD IS CERTAIN TO BE DETECTED AND EXPOSED. We can imagine the shame of the nobility and people whom the prophet from his unlooked-for vantage-point so sharply rebuked. - M.

Stand in the gate...and proclaim.
Some preachers are traders from port to port, following the customary and approved course; others adventure over the whole ocean of human concerns. The former are hailed by the common voice of the multitude, whose cause they hold, the latter blamed as idle, often suspected of hiding deep designs, always derided as having lost all guess of the proper course. Yet, of the latter class of preachers was Paul the apostle. Such adventurers, under God, this age of the world seems to us especially to want. There are ministers now to hold the flock in pasture and in safety, but where are they to make inroads upon the alien, to bring in the votaries of fashion, of literature, of sentiment, of policy, and of rank? Truly, it is not stagers who take on the customary form of their office and go the beaten round of duty, and then lie down content; but it is daring adventurers, who shall eye from the grand eminence of a holy and heavenly mind all the grievances which religion underlies, and all the obstacles which stay her course, and then descend with the self-denial and faith of an apostle to set the battle in array against them.

(Edward Irving.)

Enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.
The heathen had a notion that the gods would not like the service and sacrifice of any but such as were like themselves, and therefore to the sacrifice of Hercules none were to be admitted that were dwarfs; and to the sacrifice of Bacchus, a merry god, none that were sad and pensive, as not suiting their genius. An excellent truth may be drawn from their folly: he that would like to please God must be like God.

(H. G. Salter.)

Amend your ways and your doings.

1. This is true in a natural way; because the duties of religion have a natural tendency to those things which are the foundations of that establishment, namely, peace, unity, and order.

2. But besides a natural tendency in virtue and goodness to the establishment of states and kingdoms, as many as believe religion must likewise believe that the general practice of it in a nation will be always attended with a supernatural blessing from God. For this is the result of all the declarations of God, as to the manner and rule of His dealings with mankind, whether persons or nations, that as many as faithfully serve and obey Him, shall be assuredly intituled to His favour and protection.

II. IN EVERY NATION IT IS THE PROPER BUSINESS OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATES, AS SUCH, TO VINDICATE AND MAINTAIN THE HONOUR OF RELIGION. And when I am speaking of authority, and the vigorous application thereof by the magistrate, I cannot omit one thing, which is a mighty enforcement of it, a good example; which, in its nature, is the most forcible way of teaching and correcting, and without which, neither the instructions of ministers, nor the authority of magistrates, can avail, to the effectual discouragement and suppression of vice.

III. WITHOUT A SERIOUS REGARD TO THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL DUTIES OF RELIGION, THE GREATEST ZEAL IN OTHER MATTERS, EVEN THOUGH IT BE FOR THE ESTABLISHED WORSHIP OF GOD, WILL NOT SECURE THE DIVINE FAVOUR AND PROTECTION, EITHER TO PERSONS OR NATIONS. The external rites of religion are good helps to devotion, and proper means of maintaining order and decency in the public worship; and a zeal to preserve them, with a serious regard to those pious and wise ends, is very laudable: but to believe that zeal for them will atone for a neglect of the moral and spiritual duties of religion is a dangerous error.

(E. Gibson, D. D.)

The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these
Christian Observer.
I. We are to show THE EXTREME FOLLY OF TRUSTING TO ANY RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES, WHILE OUR HEARTS REMAIN UNRENEWED AND OUR LIVES UNHOLY. On what ground can we rely on the continuance of God's favour under such circumstances? Should we, because a friend had conferred many benefits upon us, and forgiven us many offences, be justified in supposing that there would be no limit to his endurance? Yet the Jews — and their case is not singular — seemed to claim a special right to the continued favour of God, in virtue of their religious privileges; not considering that those privileges were a free gift; that they might at any time be withdrawn, without a shadow of injustice; and that while they lasted they were intended to operate, not as inducements to presumption, but as motives to love and thankfulness and obedience. They had in themselves no spiritual efficacy. Neither the character of God, nor His promises, held out any ground of hope on which to build such a conclusion. It would not have been consistent with His holiness, or wisdom, or justice, that the sinner should escape under the plea of any national or personal privileges, however great. And His promises, both temporal and spiritual, were all made in accordance with the same principle. "If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments and do them...then I will walk among you, and I will be your God;...but if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments,...I will set My face against you." The whole tenor of God's providential dispensations is likewise to the same effect. And accordingly, the Jews, great as were their national mercies, found on numerous occasions that they were not exempt from the just displeasure of their Divine Governor. Yet, with all these proofs of God's righteous judgments, their constant cry was, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord": they caught hold, as it were, of the horns of the altar with unhallowed hands; and, notwithstanding the threatenings of the Almighty, were ever prone to trust in those external privileges. At the very time when they were committing the grievous enormities of which the prophet Jeremiah convicts them, they were zealous for the outward worship of God, and boasted highly of their religious profession. But could any folly be greater than that of supposing that this insincere worship could satisfy Him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins? The prophet forcibly points out the extreme folly and delusiveness of such expectations: "Go," he says, "unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first; and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called unto you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh." Having thus considered the extreme folly of trusting to external privileges, while the heart is unrenewed and the life unholy, we are —

II. TO SHOW THAT THIS FOLLY IS TOO COMMON IN ALL AGES; AND THAT WE OURSELVES, PERHAPS, ARE GUILTY OF IT. How many pride themselves in being zealous Protestants, or strict members of the Established Church, or regular attendants on public worship, while they live in the spirit of the world, and without any scriptural evidence of being in a state of favour with God! How many trust to the supposed orthodoxy of their faith; or to their zeal against infidelity, enthusiasm; while they are ignorant of the scriptural way of salvation, and indifferent to the great concern of making their calling and election sure! How many cherish a secret hope from the prayers of religious parents, the zeal and piety of their ministers. In short, innumerable are the ways in which persons deceive themselves on these subjects; fancying that the temple of the Lord is among them; and on this vain surmise remaining content and careless in their sins, and ignorant of all true religion. Now let us ask ourselves, in conclusion, whether such is our own case. On what are we placing our hopes for eternity? Are we resting upon anything superficial or external; upon anything short of genuine conversion of heart to God? True piety is not anything that can be done for us; it must be engrafted in us; it must dwell in our hearts, and show its blessed effects in our conduct.

(Christian Observer.)

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