Jeremiah 15:16
In the midst of the prophet's sorrow this passage occurs as a relieving feature - a memory of spiritual joy. At the same time it is recalled as a consideration that will weigh with him to whom he addresses himself. It defines his entire relation to God and to Israel, and describes his claim.

I. THE WORDS OF GOD TEST AND EXHIBIT THE INWARD LOYALTY OF THE SAINT. It is not merely that a certain feeling has been excited in the mind, but that a welcome has been given to God's revelation. A profound difference is thereby instituted between the prophet and those who were opposed to him. As the psalmist cries, "Thy word have I hid in my heart, m proof of his earnestness and his love of truth, so the prophet would commend himself to God by the attitude he had assumed to the message when it was revealed to him. It is as if he had said, "I have never resisted thy Word, but ever held myself ready to utter and obey it." The test which they apply to the spiritual nature is full of dread to the unworthy; but to those whose hearts are right with God it is a satisfaction and a source of confidence. "The thoughts and intents of the heart" thereby disclosed are seen to be right and good.

II. THEY REFRESH AND STRENGTHEN HIM FOR SUFFERING AND DUTY. It is as if the prophet were drawing comfort from recollection because his present circumstances are so troublous. But many a time the Word of God comes in a time of perplexity and darkness, bringing with it comforting light. It is greedily welcomed at such seasons and is devoured as by one who has long fasted. It penetrates thereby more deeply into the spiritual nature and more radically influences the springs and motives of conduct. It comes as a distinctly supernatural aid and makes men masters of what had previously overpowered them.

III. THEY BIND HIM MORE CLOSELY TO THE AUTHOR. The nature which has been so affected by the words of God cannot be nor regard itself as in the same position with others. Its whole character and destiny are altered. The life is leavened by that which supports and nourishes it. The indwelling Word is a consecrating influence and withdraws men from the pursuits and fellowship of the world. In this way the saint becomes identified with his Lord; a child of grace; a worker in the same great cause; a subject of like hatred and opposition, and an heir of the same kingdom. By producing the character of holiness they inscribe the Divine Name upon the heart, and link the life and destiny of the saint with the cause of God. - M.







Thy word was unto me the Joy and rejoicing of mine heart.
I. THE SOUL'S DISCOVERY OF THE WORDS OF GOD. "Thy words were found."

1. In their truth. "He that believeth hath the witness" — i.e., the thing witnessed, the testimony — "in himself." He feels the reality of the words of God. They are substance, not shadow, to him.

2. In their meaning. The words of God are not designed to act upon us as an ignorant charm. They are necessarily full of the mind of God. Sympathy with the mind of God is therefore indispensable for understanding them.

3. In their immense importance.

4. In their intense applicability.

5. In their impressive power. "Demonstration of the Spirit."

II. THE SOUL'S USE OF THE WORDS OF GOD. "I did eat them." As the mouth receives food for the body, so faith for the soul.

1. The believing soul loves the words. With its regenerated taste it relishes them keenly, finds them to be bread of God, better even than angels' food.

2. The believing soul dwells on the words; meditates upon them day and night.

3. The believing soul turns the words into the nourishment of the spiritual life. For its appetite is wholesome. It desires the sincere milk of the Word, that it may grow thereby. And it does.

III. THE DELIGHTFUL EFFECT OF THE SOUL'S DISCOVERY AND USE OF THE WORDS OF GOD. "Thy word was unto me the joy," etc. This is owing to —

1. The suitableness and comprehensiveness of its provision.

2. The preciousness of its grace.

3. The grandeur of its discoveries. Of God, His attributes, providence, Church, heaven.

4. The elevated piety and purity of its tone.Conclusion — Would you be able to express yourselves thus? Remember, then, that God's words are spread before your eye, and spoken to your ear, like any other words, to be inquired into, if you would understand them; to be attended to and detained in your memory, if you would experience their intended and beneficial effects. But remember also, that they are but the textbook of the heavenly Teacher; and do not fail to implore His gracious teaching.

(H. Angus, D. D.)

It was good advice of a venerable divine to a young man who aspired to be a preacher, when he said to him, "Don't become a minister if you can help it." The man who could very easily be a tradesman or a merchant had better not be a minister. A preacher of the Gospel should always be a volunteer, and yet he should always be a pressed man, who serves his King because he is omnipotently constrained to do so. Only he is fit to preach who cannot avoid preaching, who feels that woe is upon him unless he preach the Gospel, and that the very stones would cry out against him if he should hold his peace.

I. In the description of Jeremiah's SECRET LIFE, which consists of his inward reception of the Word of God (which description will answer for ourselves), we have three points.

1. The finding of it — "Thy words were found."(1) We read the Word. Here it is: God's Word is all here, and, if we would find it, we must read it earnestly. As the habit of having a time for prayer is good, so also is the habit of reading the Scriptures. Yet it is a mischievous practice to read a great deal of the Bible without time for thought; it flatters our conceit without benefiting our understanding. The practice of always reading the Bible in scraps is also to be deprecated.(2) But we have not found God's Word when we have read it, unless we add to it an understanding of the Word. Marrow bones, who can feed on them? Split them, take out the marrow, and then you have luscious food. Merely verbal utterances, even though they be the utterance of the Holy Spirit, cannot feed the soul. It is the inward meaning, the truth that is revealed, which we should labour after.(3) To find God's Word means sometimes the discovery of select and appropriate words to suit our case. "Thy words were found." You know when you have lost your key, and your cupboard or your drawer cannot be opened, you send for a locksmith, and he comes in with a whole bunch of keys. First he tries one — that does not fit; then he tries another — that will not do; and the good man perseveres, perhaps with twenty keys, it may be with fifty. At last he gets the proper key, which springs the lock, and he opens your treasure for you. Now Scripture to us is much of the same nature. We have many promises in the time of trouble, and it is a great blessing to find the promise that suits our case.(4) "Thy words were found"; that is, I felt I had got a hold of them; I knew I had got them; I had discovered them — they were Thy words to my inmost soul. They have come to us with a power that no other words ever had in them, and we cannot be argued out of our conviction of their superlative excellence and Divine authority. We have found the words of our heavenly Father: we know we have, for children know their own father's voice.

2. A second view of the inner life must now be considered. "Thy word was found, and I did eat it."(1) By that term is signified, first, the prizing of God's Word. When Jeremiah received a sentence which he knew came from God's mouth he prized it, he loved it so that he ate it; he could not lay it aside; he did not merely think of it; he loved it so that he put it into his very self.(2) The term eating implies, moreover, that he derived nourishment from it. It is delightful to sit down and suck the soul out of a text, to take it and feel that not the letter only but the inner vitals of the text are our own, and are to be received into the very nature of our spirit, to become assimilated with it.(3) But the figure of eating means more, it sets forth an intimate union. That which a man eats gets intertwined with his own self, his own personality. The diligent believer when he knows the Word, learns it so well that he assimilates it into his own being. Let me illustrate this by a fact which is notable in a lower sense in certain natural persuasions. When Galileo was convinced that the world moved, they put him in prison for it, and in his weakness he recanted, and said he believed it stood still and that the sun moved, but the moment, he got away from his persecutors he stamped his foot, and said, "But it does move, though." And so he who knows the truth as it is in Jesus has even a higher persuasion than that which ruled Galileo. He cannot belie the truth: he has got it so into himself that he cannot give it up.

3. Notice, then, the third glimpse into the inner life. "It was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Nothing makes a man so happy as the Word of God. Nothing makes him so full of delight and peace of soul as feeding upon the Word.

II. THE CHRISTIAN IN HIS OUTWARD LIFE, as he is mentioned here — "I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts."

1. The condition of Jeremiah was one which he had attained by his conduct. He was so continually preaching about Jehovah, so constantly insisting upon Jehovah's will, and going upon Jehovah's errands that they came to call him "Jehovah's man," and he was known by Jehovah's name. Now the man who loves God's Word, and feeds on it, and rejoices in it, will so act that he will come to be called a Christian. He will not only be so, but he will be called so. Men will take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus. To be called "Jehovah's man" was an honour to Jeremiah; and to be called by any of these nicknames, which signify that we belong to God, is an honour to aspire after and not to be regretted. May we all win some opprobrious name, and wear it as our title of holy chivalry.

2. But this is a name, in the second place, which is involved in the profession of every Christian. "I am called by Thy name, O Jehovah, God of hosts." Of course you are so called, if your profession be true. Oh, that we remembered always that we are Christians, and therefore must always act up to the name that is named upon us. God grant you, friends, that, in the power of the eating of God's Word, you may be constrained to act ever as becometh those upon whom the name of Christ is named.

3. Once more, this word may be used in the sense which arises out of the Gospel itself. "I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts." I belong to Thee. When they gather up the nations, and they say, 'This man belongs to Babylon, and that man to Assyria, and that man to Egypt,' I belong to Thee, and am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts. What a comfort this is — we who believe in Christ belong to God. We are His portion, and He will never lose us. "They shall be Mine," saith the Lord, "when I make up My jewels." You are poor: but you are Christ's. Does not that mitigate your poverty? You are sick: but you are God's. Does not that comfort you? The poor lamb lies in the cold field, but, if it belongs to a good shepherd, it shall not die. The sheep is sick, or it has wandered; but, if it belongs to an Omnipotent Shepherd, it shall be healed and it shall be brought back. The name of Christ being named upon us is the guarantee of our present comfort and of our future security.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT WAS THE PRIZE WHICH JEREMIAH DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS HAVING FOUND? It was the Word of God. "Thy words," says he, "were found" — just as a man, on digging in the ground, might find beyond his hopes a treasure there; or as a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls, might find unexpectedly one of greater price than any he was looking for. When men find the Word of God, they find also their duty and calling. They make a grand discovery of the will of God concerning them.

II. WHAT USE HE MADE OF THIS DISCOVERY. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them." So then he made the words of God his food — he made a meal of them — not only did he "hear, read, mark, and learn," but he "inwardly digested them." It is dealing with them as the hungry man does with food. It is converting the Word of God into wholesome nourishment. The Word is thus "hid in the heart," as the food we eat is in the body, and becomes, as it were, a part of us — the very life blood of the soul.

III. THE HAPPINESS WHICH HE ACQUIRED IN CONSEQUENCE. "Thy Word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart." A noble testimony this to the efficacy of God's Word. How sweetly it went down (Song of Solomon 7:9); how blessed its effects upon the prophet's heart, when "joy and rejoicing" were the consequences! David also "ate" God's words; and what is his account of it! (Psalm 119:103; Psalm 19:10.) Hear what is the voice of the whole Church without exception (Song of Solomon 2:3). Not a single member of Christ's Church but is ready to declare with the prophet that the precious Word of God, when fed upon by faith, is "the joy and the rejoicing of his heart" — his "songs in the house of his pilgrimage."

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. AS A DIVINE WORD. What is the Word? Not the book we call the Bible, that is but the record of the revelation. Jesus Christ is emphatically the Logos. The fullest, brightest, strongest Word of God is this. A true word answers two purposes.

1. By it the speaker reveals his own soul.

2. By it the speaker exerts his influence.

II. As a Divine Word APPROPRIATED.

1. Something more than to possess its record.

2. Something more than the mere understanding of its contents.

3. Something more than the mere transfusion of it into the realm of emotions.It is to convert it into the ruling spirit of life.

III. As a Divine Word ENJOYED.

1. The joy of moral satisfaction.

2. The joy of renewed strength.Conclusion — Thank God for His Word. Study it in nature, history, consciousness, and especially in Jesus Christ. Peruse, ponder, and prize this wonderful Book, containing the pearl of great price.

(Homilist.)

The Bible may be compared to a medicine: man is the patient, misery is the disease, and the Scriptures are presented to us as a remedy. Are they such?

I. THE TRUTH OF THIS PROPOSITION.

1. The Scriptures received into the mind remove the misery arising from remorse and the apprehension of punishment, and introduce into the heart the feeling of delight connected with reconciliation with God, a peaceful state of conscience, and the hope of everlasting life. A missionary was discoursing in one of the South Sea Islands to some of the inhabitants of those benighted regions, and this was his text, "God so loved the world," etc. The attention of one of the islanders was arrested: he began to interrogate the preacher. "What!" said he, "is that true? Is it so? Read that again!" The missionary read it a second time. (I heard the statement from his own lips.) "What! God so love us, as to send His Son to die for us! and are we to have everlasting life in the world to come — is that true?" "It is true," replied the preacher: "there is no ground whatever to question it." The man's mind was filled with amazement, and with sensations of repentance on account of sin, and wonder and joy on account of his salvation occupied his breast: he retired to weep, he retired to meditate, he retired to pray to God, and to praise his Creator's name. What happiness comes into the soul when the soul is assured of eternal life?

2. The Bible preserves us from the state of misery arising from bad and ungovernable passions, and introduces the delights connected with a holy state of heart.

3. The Bible received into the heart by faith turns the afflictions of life into real mercies, and renders them at once bearable and beneficial.

4. The Bible welcomed into the soul by faith removes the sting of death, and turns the monster from a dreadful curse into a blessing of no small magnitude. I was acquainted with a gentleman, many years ago; he was of a sceptical turn of mind, and, as a consequence, not very attentive to religion. He was following a very lucrative profession, and unexpectedly exhibited the symptoms of a fatal disease. He fully expected he should die in the course of a few months. He found no support in scepticism; none whatever. And the lash of conscience began, for having neglected the Scriptures, and not having fairly and candidly investigated their claims. This filled him with great remorse; for he felt that if the Bible should be true, he would certainly be condemned for his negligence and his want of candid examination. He resolved, as long as life should last, that he would study the sacred volume, and inquire into its claims. His health was restored to him, and after devoting all his leisure time, for about twelve months to reading the Scriptures, and books connected with them, and explanatory of them, and pointing out their claims and their evidences, the result was a firm conviction, that the Bible was from God. He was induced then to begin to act upon it. He went abroad; he was one night in the river Ganges, and suddenly, while fast asleep, a cry was raised that the boat was sinking; and so it was — there were holes in the keel, and the stern of the boat was brought under water in the night season by the men, who went and slept, and the boat was gradually filling, and in a few minutes more all would have sunk like a stone or lead to the bottom of the river. His first impression was, I have not an hour to live. There was a tumultuous feeling in his mind, yet had he sufficient composure to reflect upon the difference of his feelings then, and what they were when he anticipated death some years prior. His impression and conviction was, that he should be in heaven in an hour; and oh! the support of the Gospel in that moment. Subsequently, he was seized with the Asiatic cholera, and life was in suspense. Similar support was again experienced. A Brahmin was by his side; and he took occasion to say, Now you see the support, that the Christian experiences in the season of extremity: my life is in suspense: for me to live is Christ; for me to die is gain."

II. SOME OBJECTIONS WHICH STAND IN THE WAY OF ITS PRACTICAL ADOPTION. There are some who will not, like Jeremiah, "eat" the words of God — that will not receive Him into their heart; therefore they do not share in this holy joy. Some will say, "I cannot wholly satisfy my mind that this book is from God: I have doubts, and doubts which amount to what is considerable; so that I cannot enjoy the book in consequence of these sceptical ideas. How should I get rid of them?" I would say, in order to get rid of these doubts act conscientiously: do not act in a manner inconsistent with what you believe to be the will of God: do not live in wilful sin. "If any man will do the will of My Father, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." So said Christ. Act according to your own conscientious views of holiness, and you will find scepticism disappear. Let me entreat you to read the Bible, read the whole of it, if you are troubled with sceptical thoughts. Dr. Johnson said that no honest man could be a deist, if he had had opportunity to study the evidence: if he read through the evidence, and through the Bible, he could not continue a deist, as the evidence was so clear and so conclusive. Hume's name was mentioned to him, that he disbelieved the Bible. Dr. Johnson replied, "Hume, I know, made the confession to a clergyman in the bishopric of Durham, that he had never read the New Testament carefully." There are some sceptics who read a little here and a little there; but they do not get a complete view of the subject; and they read rather to find something to object to, something they may lay hold of. The conduct of such men has been compared to that of the Athenian, who had a palace to be sold by auction: he took a brick out of one of the walls of the palace, and at the auction mart he said, "Here is a sample of my palace." How absurd! A brick out of the wall to be a sample. But so some men take here a text and there a text — a brick taken out of the wall — and what do they know about the entire edifice? Give the Bible throughout a candid and complete perusal; and read books which are explanatory, written in a spirit of candour and intelligence. But let me add, to put your sceptical thoughts to flight, I think you will find prayer to be the most powerful thing of all, and the most rapid way to scatter your doubts. "He hath the witness in himself." When a man begins to pray to God, God answers him, if he prays sincerely, and God gives him a new heart and makes him a new man. Then he begins to argue in this way, "Why the Bible has changed my heart, the Bible has made me holy, the Bible has made me happy; what want I with further witness?

(H. Townley.)

I. A MEMORABLE DISCOVERY. What is meant by finding God's words?

1. A thing found has usually to be sought for. Happy is he who reads or hears the Scriptures, searching all the while for the hidden spiritual sense (Proverbs 2:4, 5).

2. To find God's Word means that we have been made to understand them (1 Corinthians 3:14). The Bible is a dull book till illuminated; a tantalising riddle till you get the key; but, the clue once found, it absorbs our attention, delights our intellect, and enriches our heart.

3. Means to appropriate it as belonging to yourself. Reading a will is not interesting till you find you have a part in it.

II. AN EAGER RECEPTION. What is meant by eating them?

1. An eager study. Greedy for the truth. My soul hungered even to ravenousness to be fed upon the bread of heaven.

2. Cheerful reception. My soul was in love with the Word.

3. An intense belief. Not questioning it, but living upon it.

4. The language means, besides, both the diligent treasuring up of the truth, and the inward digestion of the same.

III. THE HAPPY CONSEQUENCES.

1. Hold the truth in its entirety and harmony, and then it will be joy to your heart.

2. The Word of God would have given no joy had he not been obedient to it.

3. Yet there are certain choice truths in God's Word, especially joy giving: the doctrine of election, to know that you are called and predestinated; and of the immutability of Divine love.

IV. A DISTINGUISHING TITLE.

1. The name of the Lord of hosts was reviled in Jeremiah's day, yet he felt it an honour to be associated with the Lord in this contempt. Oh ye who love the Lord Jesus, never shun the scandal of the Cross!

2. Some do not count it a fair thing to bear the name of the Most High. It is a disgrace to any man that his Lord should die for his soul on Calvary and yet he be afraid to wear His livery.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. A HIGH VALUATION FOR THIS WORD. Prized as God's Word, and sought under that character. Love to the Word of God is a sure sign of a gracious heart.

1. It partakes of the Divinity of its Author.

2. It is adapted to the nature of its subject; suited to man.

3. It has produced most astonishing effects.

(1)Have you found this Word?

(2)Has it found you?

II. A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF ITS POWER. "I did eat it."

1. Religion is the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body. Truth is the sustenance of the moral man. Divine truth must be incorporated with the elements of the intellectual nature, or we perish.

2. When you come to the Word, remember that Divine influence alone can make it effectual. As you say grace before meat, let your reading be preceded by prayer.

III. A CONSCIOUS PARTICIPATION OF THE HAPPINESS IT PRODUCES. "It was the rejoicing of my heart." How does it promote joy?

1. By the light it imparts to the understanding. It gives decision to the judgment; fully occupies the mind upon the noblest subject; engages faculties and powers in God's service.

2. By the relief it gives to the conscience. In the hope of pardon and acceptance.

3. By the exercise it affords to the best affections of the heart. The pleasures of benevolence are genuine pleasures; allied to the happiness of God Himself.

4. By the consolations and hopes under sorrow.

IV. A SENSE OF CONSECRATION. "I am called by Thy name." Improvement — It reproves —

1. Those who never seek.

2. Those who are content with knowledge without experience.

3. Those who are strangers to religious peace and joy.

4. Those who neither own God's name, nor are owned of Him.

(S. Thodey.)

I. GOD'S WORD FOUND.

1. It comes to us through nature.

2. It comes also through our own spiritual being, in its instinctive yearnings.

3. In the fullest sense, it has come through Christ.

4. Also through prophets and apostles — in the written Word.

II. GOD'S WORD EATEN.

1. This is more than to possess its record. To have a full larder will not sustain life nor give strength.

2. It is more than an intellectual understanding of the contents of Scripture. The mere analysis of food will not give sustenance.

3. Positively, it is to turn it into the principle of life by assimilation.

III. GOD'S WORD ENJOYED.

1. The joy of satisfaction.

2. The joy of strength renewed.

(John Oswald.)

I. AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY WAS MADE.

1. Words are the representatives of thought. Have great power to move men's minds.

2. Words derive much of their power from the mind which utters them. God's words are a hammer, a fire, a sword, a balm, a saving and sanctifying power to men who receive and obey them.

3. That which is found must previously have existed. God's Word exists, whether men find it or not. He who finds it is wise, rich, happy.

II. A PECULIAR METHOD OF APPROPRIATION WAS MADE.

1. It implies soul hunger. Caused by stress of duty, pressure of persecution, and multiplied sorrows.

2. It affirms that God's words are soul food. Wholesome, nourishing, savoury, saving.

III. A DELIGHTFUL EXPERIENCE WAS REALISED. Joy and rejoicing —

1. In what the Word revealed of God.

2. In the way that revelation met his utmost need.

3. In the knowledge of salvation there unfolded.

4. In the prospects to which the attention of God's servants was directed.

IV. AN EMPHATIC PUBLIC TESTIMONY WAS GIVEN. "I am called by Thy name," etc.

1. God's name was called upon him. As the saving power, and source of hope and joy, the name of Christ has been called upon us.

2. He was called by God's name. We, by Christ's.

3. He was strengthened by God in all his works.Application —

1. The Word discovered — a treasure.

2. The Word in the heart — a joy.

3. The Word on the lips — a message.

4. The Word in the hand — a weapon.

(W. Whale.)

"Understandest thou what thou readest?" That is the main point. The butterflies flit over the garden, and nothing comes of their flitting; but look at the bees, how they drive into the bells of the flowers and come forth with their thighs laden with the pollen and filled with the sweetest honey for their hives. This is the way to read your Bible: get into the flowers of Scriptures, plunge into the inward meaning, and suck out that secret sweetness which the Lord hath put there for your spiritual nourishment.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

"Thy words were found, and I did eat them." In the absence of his father, a little boy attended the Sabbath School of a Dutch Reformed minister. On the father's return he went upstairs and finding his son reading the Word of God, he asked him, "What book are you reading?" He replied, "The Bible." "Where did you get it?" "In yonder Sabbath School." He then took the Bible from him and committed it to the flame, saying, "If you ever go to the Sunday School again, I'll give you such a thrashing as you have never had." Having ascertained that the Bible was burned, his son said to him, "Father, you have burned my Bible; but you cannot burn out of me those chapters I have committed to memory from the Gospel of John."

(W. Baxendale.)

"I have many books," says Mr. Newton, "that I cannot sit down to read; they are indeed good and sound, but, like halfpence, there goes a great quantity to a little amount. There are silver books, and a very few golden books; but I have one book worth more than all, called the Bible, and that is a book of bank notes."

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