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THE PRESENT TESTIMONY.

ETC., ETC.

NO I.

JEREMIAH.

The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah has a different character from that of Isaiah. It does not contain the same development of the counsels of God respecting this earth, that Isaiah does. It is true that we are told many things in it concerning the nations, but it is principally composed of testimony addressed immediately to the conscience of the people, on the subject of their moral condition at the time the prophet speaks, and with an eye to the judgment with which they were threatened. sudah had forsaken the Lord, for their repentance under Isaiah was but a fair appearance, and under the kings that succeeded him, their degradation was complete. The prophet's heart was overwhelmed with grief, because of his love for the people; at the same time that he was filled with a deep sense of their relationship with the Lord. The sense of this produced a continual conflict in his soul between the thought of the value of the people as the people of God, and a holy jealousy for the God and His rights over His people--rights which they were trampling under foot. This was an incurable wound to his heart. He had pleaded for the people, he had stood in the breach for them before the Lord; but he saw that it was all in vain; the people rejected God and the testimony that He sent them. God Himself would no longer hearken to prayer made for Israel. Jeremiah prophesies under this impression. A sorrowful task indeed, and one which made the prophet truly a man of sorrow. And although he could always say that if the people repented they would be received in grace, VOL. V. PT. I.

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chap. xxxix., chap. xl.—xliv., chap. xlv., chap. xlvi., chap. xlviii., chap. xlix. 146, verses 7—22, verses 23— 27, verses 28, 29, verses 30—33, verses 34–39, chaps. 1., li.; chap. lii. is not written by Jeremiah.

There can be nothing more striking in the way of deep affliction than that of the prophet. He is distressed; his heart is broken. One sees, too, that God has made choice of a naturally feeble mind, easily cast down and discouraged (even while filling it with His own strength), in order that the anguish, the complaints, the distress of soul, the indignation of a weak heart that resents oppression while unable to throw it off, or overcome it, being all poured out before Him, should bear testimony against the people whose inveterate wickedness called for His vengeance. The affliction of Christ, whose Spirit wrought that of Jeremiah, was infinitely deeper; but His perfect communion with His Father, caused all the anguish that in Jeremiah's case broke out into complaints, to be in secret between Jesus and His Father. It is very rarely expressed in the Gospels. He is entirely for others in grace. In the Psalms we see more of His feelings. In Jeremiah's case, it was proper that the anguish of the faithful remnant should be expressed before God. The absolute perfection of the Lord Jesus, and the calmness which, through the presence of God, accompanies His perfection, in all His ways allowed of no complaint, whatever might be the inward anguish of His heart. Sympathy for others became the position of Jesus. We see that our precious Lord never failed in this. But it was equally becoming that the outpouring of heart of the faithful, who needed this sympathy should be expressed by the Holy Ghost. It is not that there was no weakness in the heart that poured itself out, but if the Spirit lays it

it is evident that He must express it as it is. Otherwise, it were useless and false. Consequently, Jeremiah enters much more personally into his prophecies, than any other prophet." He represents the

• There is something analogous in Jonah. But there the circumstances of the prophet are an episode, and are not connected with the testimony he bore, unless by the single principle of

open,

grace.

he well knew that the people had even no thought of repenting. Two things sustained him in this painful service (for what could

be more painful than to announce judgment for their iniquities, to a people beloved of God) first of all, the energy of the Spirit of God which filled his heart and compelled him to announce the judgment of God, in spite of contradiction and persecution; and then, the revelation of the people's final blessing, according to the unchangeable counsels of God. After this brief notice of the spirit of the Book of Jeremiah, the proofs and details of which we shall find in going through his prophecies, let us now examine these in succession.

It is well-known that the order of the prophecies in the Septuagint is different from that in the Hebrew Bible. But I see no reason for not receiving the latter. There is no doubt that it does not observe the chronological order. The names of the kings in the successive chapters, clearly prove this. But it appears to me that where there is chronological confusion, the subjects are classed, and that according to the mind of the Spirit.

The first twenty-four chapters have rather a different character from those that follow. To the end of chap. xxiv. it is a reasoning, a moral pleading with the people. In chap. xxv. there is a formal prophecy of judgment on divers nations by the hand of Nebuchadrezzar. And afterwards we find prophecies much more distinct from each other, and connected with historical details.

Chaps. xxx.—xxxiii. contain promises of assured blessing for the last days. From chap. xxxix. it is the history of that which followed the taking of Jerusalem, and the judgment of Egypt and Babylon.

We will now state the different distinct prophecies, chap. i., chaps. ii.--vi., chaps. vii.-X., chaps. xi.-xiii., chaps. xiv., xv., chaps. xvi., xvii., chaps. xviii-xx., chaps. xxixxiv., chap. xxv., chap. xxvi., chap. xxvii. (verse 1, read Zedekiah instead of Jehoiakim), chap. xxviii., chap. xxix., chaps. XXX., xxxi., chap. xxxii., chap. xxxiii. however, is connected with the preceding one. Chap. xxxiv., chap. xxxv., chap. xxxvi., chaps. xxxvii., xxxviii.,

• In chap. xxvii.“ Jehoiakim” should be “ Zedekiah” (see verse 12 and chap. xxviii. verse 1.

This last,

chap. xxxix., chap. xl.—xliv., chap. xlv., chap. xlvi., chap. xlviii., chap. xlix. 146, verses 7—22, verses 23– 27, verses 28, 29, verses 30—33, verses 34–39, chaps. 1., li.; chap. lii. is not written by Jeremiah.

There can be nothing more striking in the way of deep affliction than that of the prophet. He is distressed; his heart is broken. One sees, too, that God has made choice of a naturally feeble mind, easily cast down and discouraged (even while filling it with His own strength), in order that the anguish, the complaints, the distress of soul, the indignation of a weak heart that resents oppression while unable to throw it off, or overcome it, being all poured out before Him, should bear testimony against the people whose inveterate wickedness called for His vengeance. The affliction of Christ, whose Spirit wrought that of Jeremiah, was infinitely deeper; but His perfect communion with His Father, caused all the anguish that in Jeremiah's case broke out into complaints, to be in secret between Jesus and His Father. It is very rarely expressed in the Gospels. He is entirely for others in grace.

In the Psalms we see more of His feelings. In Jeremiah's case, it was proper that the anguish of the faithful remnant should be expressed before God. The absolute perfection of the Lord Jesus, and the calmness which, through the presence of God, accompanies His perfection, in all His ways allowed of no complaint, whatever might be the inward anguish of His heart. Sympathy for others became the position of Jesus. We see that our precious Lord never failed in this. But it was equally becoming that the outpouring of heart of the faithful, who needed this sympathy should be expressed by the Holy Ghost. It is not that there was no weakness in the heart that poured itself out, but if the Spirit lays it

open, it is evident that He must express it as it is. Otherwise, it were useless and false. Consequently, Jeremiah enters much more personally into his prophecies, than any other prophet. He represents the

• There is something analogous in Jonah. But there the circumstances of the prophet are an episode, and are not connected with the testimony he bore, unless by the single principle of grace.

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