So the officials went to the king in the courtyard. And having stored the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, they reported everything to the king.
I. THE ENMITY OF THE CARNAL MIND TO DIVINE TRUTH, The king cannot leave the manuscript alone, but he strives to make up for that weakness by:
1. Contempt. A page or domestic scribe is employed to read, instead of the king reading for himself; whilst the chief officers sit with their royal master, ridiculing it. There are many who dare not part company with religion, who revenge themselves by making light of its warnings and ordinances. Their contempt is a little overdone, in proportion to the latent, unconfessed fear.
2. Destruction. Dislike of the truth itself transfers itself also to the vehicle by which it is conveyed. It is a sign of the indwelling of the evil one, who seeks to destroy the works of God.
3. Persecution. The servants of God who have communicated his Word are also hated, and they are sought out with a view to their hurt. This is a characteristic of the confirmed sinner, which repeats itself over and over again in history. The world hates the servants of Christ because it hates their Master.
II. THE HARDNESS OF HEART PRODUCED BY CONTINUAL SIN.
1. Deliberate profanity. If the text is rightly interpreted, it describes a repeated action, performed with the greatest coolness and clearest intention. How different from that young king who rent his garments at the message from the book so mysteriously lost and found again!
2. Resolute disobedience. The treatment to which the roll was subjected showed how thoroughly the mind of the king was made up. And the remonstrances of his councillors were unheeded. Evidently the messages of God would be wasted upon such a king, and consequently his doom would be forthwith pronounced (vers. 30, 31).
III. THE FOOLISHNESS OF THOSE WHO FIGHT AGAINST GOD. This is revealed in their methods. Here the burning of the book and the persecution of its authors are all that occurs to the infatuated king to do. But the prophet and his scribe are nowhere to be found, for "God hid them;" and the burnt manuscript appears in a second and enlarged edition. Persecution and the Index Expurgatorius have been potent allies of the truth they have been used to suppress. It is an unequal warfare when God is on one side and man on the other. In such a ease the truest wisdom is capitulation. God's indictment against us is unanswerable, and there is no escaping his judgments. When such devices occur to the sinner, he may well fear for himself. Truly understood, these warnings are but the efforts of Divine love to awaken to repentance, and thus afford opportunity for its free and uninterrupted exercise. - M.
I. DEEP AND VARIED INTEREST OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH.
He cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth until an the ton was consumed in the fire that was on the hearthI. THE INCIDENTS CONNECTED WITH THE TEXT.
II. A FEW OBSERVATIONS UPON THEM.
1. The piety of the parent is no assured guarantee for the religion of the son. The life of the Spirit can alone come from God, and it is given and withheld in a way to us past finding out. There are many instances in which we should not be justified in attributing any neglect to the parent, though the child may not by any means have walked in his steps; and, where this does occur, men not unfrequently become monsters of iniquity; for it has been well remarked that none are more abandoned than those who become wicked after a religions education: they cannot have quietness in vice till they have stupefied their consciences; and the greater the obstacles before men can fully indulge their lusts, the more depraved they are afterwards. The testimony of the Spirit, respecting Josiah, the father of Jehoiakim, is this, "that he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David."
2. However men may slight and pour contempt upon the threatenings of God, they can in no way prevent their fulfilment. Jehoiakim and his princes mocked at the message of God, despised His gracious warnings, and purposed the infliction of punishment upon the prophet and scribe concerned in their delivery; but by so doing they did but provoke the wrath of the Lord till there was no remedy: God at length brought upon them the King of Babylon. And all this, we are told, took place, that "the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled." The destruction of the world in the time of Noah was long delayed; but it came at length, and that when men were little expecting it. And, if men will not be prevailed upon to flee to the refuge which God hath in infinite mercy provided, this warning must be fulfilled in their destruction.
3. Those who slight God's warnings increase their condemnation. It was declared by the Lord through Huldah, the prophetess, to Josiah, the father of Jehoiakim, Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God when thou heardest His words against this place and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before Me, and didst rend thy clothes and weep before Me, I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord: behold I will gather thee to thy fathers; and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace" (2 Chronicles 34:27).
III. THE APPLICABILITY OF THIS SUBJECT TO PRESENT TIMES. Are there not those in this our land who endeavour, by the keen knife of wit and sarcasm, to cut the Bible in pieces, and thus bring it into contempt, and cause it to be neglected? And why do they act thus? They hate the Bible because they perceive that its threatenings are pointed at them and their sins; they are against the Bible because they see that the Bible is against them; they Know very well that, if the Bible be true, if it be indeed the Word of the living God, they are in a very awful case — in danger of feeling the wrath of God for ever in another world: this they cannot bear to think of, and therefore they first begin to wish that it may not be true; next, indulge a faint hope that it is not; and, lastly, are led on by. Satan to believe that it is nothing else but a cunningly-devised fable, fitted to frighten and alarm the minds of the weak; forgetting that the very circumstance which makes it so distasteful to themselves, namely, that it forbids the indulgence of every sinful desire and the practice of every wicked act, is of itself one of the very strongest proofs that it is not the Word of man, but of God.
IV. SOME LESSONS OF INSTRUCTION.
1. The duty of reverencing God's Word.
2. The duty of making it known according to our ability among others.
3. The duty of dealing ,faithfully with those who live in disobedience to God's commands.
Homiletic Magazine.I. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL WERE INSPIRED BY GOD; SO ARE THE SCRIPTURES.
2. Further proof —
(1) (2) (3) (4) II. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL CONTAINED DIVINE THREATENINGS AGAINST SIN. So throughout the Scriptures. III. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL WERE INTENDED TO PRODUCE PENITENCE AND RESULT IN FORGIVENESS (ver. 3). "To the Lord our God belong — mercies," &c. IV. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE DESPISED BY THE HARDENED AND REBELLIOUS (vers. 22-24). Burning was merely the outward and visible sign of contempt, neglect, and disdain. V. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE, NEVERTHELESS, REVERENCED BY SOME (ver. 25). (Homiletic Magazine.)
(2) (3) (4) II. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL CONTAINED DIVINE THREATENINGS AGAINST SIN. So throughout the Scriptures. III. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL WERE INTENDED TO PRODUCE PENITENCE AND RESULT IN FORGIVENESS (ver. 3). "To the Lord our God belong — mercies," &c. IV. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE DESPISED BY THE HARDENED AND REBELLIOUS (vers. 22-24). Burning was merely the outward and visible sign of contempt, neglect, and disdain. V. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE, NEVERTHELESS, REVERENCED BY SOME (ver. 25). (Homiletic Magazine.)
(3) (4) II. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL CONTAINED DIVINE THREATENINGS AGAINST SIN. So throughout the Scriptures. III. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL WERE INTENDED TO PRODUCE PENITENCE AND RESULT IN FORGIVENESS (ver. 3). "To the Lord our God belong — mercies," &c. IV. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE DESPISED BY THE HARDENED AND REBELLIOUS (vers. 22-24). Burning was merely the outward and visible sign of contempt, neglect, and disdain. V. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE, NEVERTHELESS, REVERENCED BY SOME (ver. 25). (Homiletic Magazine.)
II. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL CONTAINED DIVINE THREATENINGS AGAINST SIN. So throughout the Scriptures. V. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE, NEVERTHELESS, REVERENCED BY SOME (ver. 25). (Homiletic Magazine.)
II. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL CONTAINED DIVINE THREATENINGS AGAINST SIN. So throughout the Scriptures.
V. THE WORDS IN THE ROLL ARE, NEVERTHELESS, REVERENCED BY SOME (ver. 25).
2. Views of a prophet's inner life of anguish and faith (chaps. 1, 9, 10, 12).
3. Passages of vivid narrative (this chapter).
II. A STRANGE SCENE.
III. A SEARCHING LESSON FOR THE SOUL. The possibility of complete indifference to the most urgent warnings from God, even without open rejection of religion. Let us take the case of Zedekiah thus in some few respects.
1. His act as a specimen of the soul's acts now.
2. His excuses.
3. His doom.
IV. ZEDEKIAH HEARS A MESSAGE FROM ONE WHOM, ON THE WHOLE, HE OWNS AS GOD'S MESSENGER, AND, BY WAY OF REPLY, HE BURNS IT. Countless souls own the Bible, as, on the whole, God's Word. Perhaps in a time of distress, like Zedekiah (chap. Jeremiah 38.), they will anxiously turn to it. But in their hour of security, when grief or conscience is silent, the Bible may warn mere, but in vain. Church lessons, sermon texts, family portions, private reading, all bring them God's warnings. The soul, while it dares not say it is false, can yet cast the unfelt truth aside.
V. ZEDEKIAH, PERHAPS, EXPLAINED HIS ACT IN SOME VAGUE WAY TO HIMSELF. "Jeremiah is a prophet; but cannot a prophet be prejudiced and exaggerate?" So Bible readers will let sceptical depreciation off the Bible so far warp them as just to take the edge off the reality of its warnings. "Ye shall not surely die."
VI. BUT MUCH MORE THAN THIS: ZEDEKIAH POSITIVELY REJECTED THE MESSAGE FROM WOUNDED PRIDE. He did not want it: he was well enough as he was. This blinded him in great measure to the question whether it were from God or not. So self will rise against the very words of Jesus, till it has seen its need and misery as it is (Revelation 3:17).
VII. ZEDEKIAH, FOR ALL THIS SECURITY AND INDIFFERENCE, WAS ON THE VERGE OF A REAL AND DREADFUL DOOM. Ruin, captivity, blindness, bereavement (chap. Jeremiah 39.). So now, indifference to Divine warnings is no disproof of their truth. The Judge of all the earth will act, not on our view of things, but on His own.
VIII. HE WHO THREATENS IS HE WHO ATONES, SAVES, AND LOVES. He sends His real threatenings to drive us to His real mercy (Revelation 3:19).
(H. C. G. Moule, D. D.)
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WRITTEN WORD. Our Lord and His apostles speak to us by their written words in the New Testament; and they attest the inspiration of the written Old Testament by the numberless quotations from its various hooks. These Scriptures we are commanded to "talk of, when we walk by the way, and when we sit in the house." We are also especially to heed them when they are read or explained to us in the sanctuary of public worship.
II. THE VALUE OF DIVINE ORDINANCES. We should come up to the house of God, my brethren, "to ask those things that be necessary as well for the body as the soul." We should come up "to set forth God's most worthy praise." We should also come up to hear "His most holy Word."
III. THE LORD'S OBJECT IN THE SCRIPTURES. The object which God has in view in giving us His Word, is to save our souls. He therein tells us, first, of our danger, and then of our refuge. The Scriptures, therefore, when rightly received, issue in our salvation. This was the Lord's object in reference to Judah. Judah had sinned; and the Lord had threatened, by Jeremiah, to punish those sins. Mean-while, however, he tried once more to bring them to repentance. He therefore commanded Jeremiah to commit to writing all the evils he had pronounced against that nation, in the hope that, when they read what was written, they might be alarmed at their danger, and seek pardon from their God before their destruction came.
IV. THE REBELLION OF THE CARNAL MIND. "The carnal mind," we are told, "is enmity against God." It on this account opposes God's Word, and hates and persecutes God's faithful servants.
V. THE FOLLY OF DESTROYING GOD'S WORD. Those men destroy God's Word who will not receive its sayings. It matters not, however, my brethren, whether you receive the whole Word of God, or not. By it you must be one day judged. The judgment will be set, and the books will be opened. If you could get together and burn all the Bibles in the universe, that flame would never destroy God's truth. Hell would be the same: eternity would be the same: death and judgment would be unaltered. Reject not, then, the inspired Word. Receive it most thankfully. Pray, over it most earnestly.
(C. Clayton, M. A.)
I. THOSE WHO, IN THEIR EARLY DAYS, HAVE RESISTED HOLY INFLUENCES, GENERALLY TURN OUT THE MOST WICKED OF MEN. I hardly know an exception to this rule. Nor can you much wonder that it is so. It is just what we might expect. When a man deliberately tramples on conviction, and resists the dealings of God's Spirit, he uses the most effectual means to sear his conscience and harden his heart. If, in early days, you have been hedged round with Christian influences, and loving counsels, and bright examples, and fervent prayers: and you have withstood all these things, you are just the person most likely to make a rebound to the other extreme, and plunge headlong into gross iniquity.
II. IF A MAN'S RELIGION IS NOT GENUINE AND HEART-DEEP, IT OFTEN HAPPENS THAT TROUBLES AND CALAMITIES ONLY DRIVE HIM FARTHER AWAY FROM GOD. Do you remember what is written of King Ahaz? It might be written of many a one besides him. "In the time of stress did he trespass yet more against the Lord." Yes, with some men the more they suffer the more they sin. Adversity angers them against God. It is well known that times of pestilence, whilst they have brought out an unwonted religious earnestness on the one side, have brought out an unusual amount of wickedness on the other. The plague of London developed the vices of the metropolis to a frightful extent. Men patrolled the streets singing ribald songs beside the dead cart. When a ship is wrecked, and about to go to the bottom, if some fall on their knees and pray, others fly to drink and cursing. Nothing is a truer touchstone of character than the way in which a man treats the chastenings of God.
III. AS THE HEART GETS HARDENED IN SIN, THERE IS A GROWING UNWILLINGNESS TO LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF GOD. As soon as a young man begins an evil course, and resolves to take his fill of sinful pleasure, he acquires a hatred of his Bible, and a disinclination to attend the house of God. If he cannot silence God's ministers, he will keep as far as possible from them, and shut his ears against all good counsel I know a man to whom the sound of the church bells is so hateful, that in the warmest day in summer he will close all his windows, if possible, to keep it out. He was once a very different man, but now the devil has got such possession of him, that he abhors every vestige of religion; and I verily believe that were you to put a Bible into his hand, he would cut it in pieces with his penknife, and pitch it into the fire. If I want to know something of your state of heart, I ask, what value do you put on, and what use do you make of the law of God?
(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)
I. GOD WOULD STILL REMAIN. The Bible does not make God; it does not even demonstrate the being of God. It assumes Him. Its opening words are, "In the beginning God created." The simplest argument in all the world is that which phrases itself thus: Design supposes a designer. Were I to say that John Milton made Paradise Lost by jumbling letters in a bag and tossing them forth, all reasonable men would laugh at me; but this would be no more preposterous than is the allegation that our universe is a fortuitous concourse of atoms. All men know that back of law is the Lawgiver, back of order the Arranger, back of design an Infinite Contriver. But while the world would retain its belief in God, it would, in the absence of the Scriptures, know nothing of His Providence or of His Fatherhood.
II. THE SENSE OF SIN WOULD REMAIN. The Bible is not responsible for the sense of sin. If there were no Bible, our consciences would still speak to us. When Prof. Webster was lying in prison awaiting his doom he made formal complaint that he was affronted by his keepers, who shouted at him, "Oh, you bloody man!" and by his fellow-prisoners, who pounded on the walls of his cell, shouting, "Oh, you bloody man!" A watch was set, but no voice was heard; it was his guilty conscience that was crying out against him. It is not the Bible that gives us Ixion on the wheel, or Sisyphus vainly rolling the stone up the mountain-side, or Tantalus up to his lips in the ever-receding waters. No, in any case conscience would remain; but in the absence of revelation we should know no remedy for its sting.
III. WERE THE BIBLE DESTROYED, OUR SENSE OF DUTY WOULD STILL REMAIN. The moral law is set forth in the Scriptures in the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount. The Decalogue, however, was written in the human constitution long before it found expression in Scripture. It is interwoven with the nerves and sinews of the race. The Sermon on the Mount is simply a broad and glorious exposition of the Decalogue. There is nothing new or original here. We are reminded that the Golden Rule itself did not originate with Christ. The ethical system of the Bible is merely an authoritative statement of certain laws which are written in the soul of man. God here places His imprimatur on those otherwise anonymous precepts which the whole world recognises as right. So, were the Bible to vanish, the moral distinctions would remain, and a man would know his duty while, alas! ever sensible of not doing it.
IV. THE BIBLE GONE, DEATH WOULD STILL REMAIN; DEATH-AND JUDGMENT FOLLOWING AFTER. It needs no revelation from on high to tell us that, as Abd-el-Kader says, "the black camel kneels at our gate." That admonition is written on the grave-stones that line the journey of our life.
"The air is full of farewells to the dying
And mournings for the dead."But without the Scriptures we should have no hope of triumph over death.
V. THE DREAM OF IMMORTALITY WOULD STILL REMAIN. This is quite independent of Scripture. The Greeks put an obolus upon the tongue of the dead to pay their ferriage across the Styx because there might be a happy land beyond. The Indian chic was buried with his bows and arrows at his side, because, if there should by chance be a happy hunting-ground, he would need them there. Thus immortality has always been a fond dream — a dream only. When Cicero lighted the lamp in the grave of his daughter it was with the thought that possibly her life, though extinguished for a time, might be rekindled. When Socrates put the cup of hemlock to his lips, he said, "I go; whether to perish or to live again I know not." The old fable of the Phoenix expressed the fondest of pagan hopes. No, no, we should not lose the dream but we should lose the certainty, for in the Gospel life and immortality are brought to light. The twilight vanishes, the dream becomes a splendid reality. The Bible is our noonday sun. Its glories are far away from the multitude who will not receive it. There are mysteries, vast and incomprehensible here; but burn the Book, or what is the same, let the world lose its confidence in it, and all that makes life worth living goes from us. But the Bible is in no danger; it has come to stay; it will glorify life and illuminate the valley of death until the last penitent sinner has gone through heaven's gate. Voltaire said that he would pass through the forest of the Scriptures and girdle all its trees so that in a hundred years Christianity would be only a vanishing memory. The hundred years have expired; Voltaire is gone, and "none so poor to do him reverence," but Christianity is still here, and the trees of the Lord are full of sap. The brazier of Jehoiakim is a golden altar, the fumes of which, like frankincense, have gone through all the earth.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)1. Consider the object which God has in view in writing His Word and sending His written messages to mankind. This object is most pathetically set forth (ver. 3). That is why God has given us the Bible! Not to bewilder us, not to start us on courses of intellectual speculation, not to tempt our curiosity, not to found rival sects, but to bring us to Himself to obtain forgiveness of iniquity and sin.
2. Man is so unwilling to hear anything unpleasant or disagreeable about himself that lie gets into a wrong temper before he actually knows what God s object is. Jehoiakim did not hear the whole roll. Did any man ever destroy the Bible who knew it wholly? The difficulty is in the "three or four leaves." There are men to-day who having heard three or four leaves of Genesis have cut it with the penknife. They cannot get over the six days and the talking serpent, so they cut the roll with the penknife. Or if they begin another book, they are offended by the extraordinary numbers of people killed in war, and the romantic ages of the patriarchs; so they cut the roll with the penknife. Or if they begin elsewhere, they are offended by the descriptions of human nature, its depravity, its helplessness, its horrible sin; and having heard three or four leaves, they cut the roll with the penknife. Now the Bible must be read in its entirety, that all its parts may assume their just proportions and their appropriate colour.
3. Though Jehoiakim cut the roll and cast it into the fire, the words were all rewritten, and the impious king fell under the severe and fatal judgment of God (ver. 30). Men have not destroyed revelation when they have destroyed the Bible. "The Word of the Lord abideth for ever." The penknife, cannot reach its spirit, the fire cannot touch its life. The history of the Bible is one of the proofs of its inspiration.
4. The desire to cut the Bible with the penknife and to cast it into the fire, is quite intelligible because in a sense profoundly natural. The Bible never lures human attention by flattering compliments. What wonder if the leper should break the mirror which shows him his loathsomeness?
5. This desire to mutilate the holy Word shows itself in various ways, some of them apparently innocent, others of them dignified with fine names and claiming attention as the last developments of human progress.(1) Look, for example, at the use made of the sectarian penknife.(2) Look at the use of the philosophical penknife. The letter is cut down to nothing, and revelation becomes a question of consciousness, so that the inquiry is not so much, What is written? as, What do you feel? From these reflections we may well learn to hold the roll as inviolable, holy, sufficient, final.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH LED TO THE PREPARATION OF THIS ROLL. Jeremiah had now been a preacher to the people for three-and-twenty years, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and warning the nation" every one night and day with tears." The effect of these spoken addresses, however, had been utterly disappointing; under Divine guidance he must now have recourse to another expedient. He must prepare a summary of all his sermons, revive upon the minds of the people the warnings which seemed to have passed away; must enable them to read, each in the solitude of his secret chamber, words which, as heard with the outward ears, had neither moved them to repentance nor kindled in them any sense of alarm. "And the word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day." It is worthy your noting how frequently in the Old Testament the Almighty gives instructions to have His words committed to writing; to Habakkuk it is said, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables." The commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai must be preserved on two tables of testimony, — tables of stone, written with the finger of God; and the commission given to Ezekiel shall be contained in "the roll of a book, written within and without." Of all this, no doubt the design is to make us appreciate the value of a written revelation, of a written rule of faith, of a written charter of salvation, of a written and inspired record of the mind and will of God. In a matter so vital to man's happiness, God would not leave us at the mercy of man's memories — to the fidelity with which oral traditions might be handed down. But let us see what this history teaches us is the avowed purpose of the Most High in giving us this written revelation. "Write all these words, for it may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them"; and the same thought is repeated in the seventh verse, where Baruch is instructed to go and read the writing to the assembled people. "It may be, they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way." But how striking is this language on the part of Almighty God. "It may be" that such and such effects will follow on the use of certain means. In the infinite prescience of the everlasting mind we know there can be no such thing as a "may be"; gathering into its sweep as that mind does the issues of all being, chance, time, space, every circumstance with regard to every soul, is an inevitable must be. While still further, with regard to this very people of whom it is said, "It may be that they will turn," we know it was a settled fact, in the order of the Divine omniscience, that they would not turn, but would "deal very treacherously." Too humble we cannot be in dealing with those apparently conflicting difficulties of moral state, nor too thankful either. They teach us that in relation to the acts and purposes of an infinite mind there are things which are too high for us; that however much two statements may seem to cross each other, if they are clearly revealed we must accept both. "An intellect to which nothing would be paradoxical," says Bishop Horsley, "would be an infinite intellect." It is a bad way of reconciling two Scripture doctrines to ignore or overlook or hide under a bushel one of them. The denial of the doctrine of the Divine predestination, of a knowledge on the part of God of how you or I shall act at any given moment of our future history, is simple atheism; the dethronement of God from the rule of the universe, and a passing of the sceptre to the hands of a thousand wild contingencies, that each may contend for it as it will. And yet with all this "must be" in the Divine purposes, room should be left for the "may be" in the human volition and acts. I bid you take a practical example. Look at the apostle Paul and his companions in the storm. All the men in that ship were to be saved; he knew that, as an absolute purpose of God, which nothing could prevent. It was "a must be"; but the sailors did not believe in this assurance. Hope was gone, the ship must be abandoned. "Down with, the boats instantly, and let each for himself take his chance of deliverance." Now, how did Paul act, with his foreknowledge that all the passengers should be saved? Did he sit quietly? Just the reverse; with all the earnestness and solemnity of one who felt that on the assistance of these sailors he and all that sailed with him were dependent for their life, he cried out, "Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved." I have told you that there shall be no loss of any man's life among us and I believe that It shall be even as it was told. He seems to add, God s predestinations are accomplished not by the superseding of human efforts, but by the employment of them; not by forcing our moral liberty, but in harmony therewith. The end is fixed; but for the fulfilment of it my earnestness is necessary, your submission to my directions is necessary; the labour and skill of these seamen to lighten the ship, to take up the anchor, to loose the rudder-bands, to hoist up the mainsail to the wind are necessary. There is a sense in which it "must be" that you shall be saved, and there is a sense in which it may be that you shall perish. You have, to do, not with the certainty, but with the contingency, and it hangs upon this, "Except these abide in the ship." And it is under like limitations that God uses the expression, "it may be," in regard to the effect which the writings of Jeremiah might have upon the minds of those who should read them, — whether the Jews or ourselves. But, in our case, the putting of the Bible into our hands is, so to speak, a moral experiment. To us, His ministering servants, God says, "Here is a book fitted by the nature of its discoveries to commend itself to every man's conscience; calculated by its discoveries of a Saviour's love, and power, and tenderness, to win the most hardened heart to repentance, and accompanied, moreover, with such piercing and persuasive energy, through the influences of the Spirit, that only on the supposition of the most resolved obduracy and pride can any conscience remain unconvinced of its guilt, or any sinner continue in the error of his ways. I, in My infinite foresight, may know that in the case of this man, or of that, the message will fail, but I will have the experiment tried with all. Thou shalt speak My word unto them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear.'" You must preach upon contingencies; "Take thee a roll of a book, 'it may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil that I purpose to do unto them.'" But let us look at this "may be" — this merciful contingency that God, in condescension to our forms of thought, is pleased to speak of. These possible results, which it is in the heart of God to do, should be produced by our taking the Book of Scripture into our hands. First, God hopes thereby to excite in us a holy fear of His just displeasure — "It may be that they will hear all the evil that I purpose to do unto them." Yes, will hear it and believe in it — will not suppose that I speak parables, will not think that I have just menaced merely to humble, or have drawn pictures of calamity only to terrify, but will be persuaded of a truth that if My message be not accepted these results will follow. I will leave men to themselves, I will withdraw from them the influences of My Holy Spirit, I will bid the great High Priest offer up no more prayers for them, I will even suffer them to delude themselves into a false peace. Oh! ye who despise the Word, will ye hear all the evil which God purposes to do unto you? But see, God has better hope of His work. He trusts it may produce amendment of life, accompanied with earnest desires for forgiveness — "It may be that they may return every man from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." Do not fail to note here the import of that expression. "That I may forgive." It touches upon another of God s deep things, namely, upon what God is able to do, what are the limits imposed upon Him by the nature of His own attributes, upon some things which cannot be done by Him, to whom, nevertheless, we are accustomed to say that "all things are possible." Sins of longest life I can forgive, and sins of the blackest dye; I can forgive infirmity, forgive years of despised grace and despised opportunity, but it is beyond the power of My holy nature, beyond the reach of the great propitiation, to forgive where there is no returning, where the heart is still in love with evil, enslaved under the uncast-off yoke of sin. "It may be that they may return, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin." I must note one other of these contingent results which God hopes for through His written Word, put by the Spirit into the mouth of Jeremiah; namely, that it will set the people upon much earnest prayer. "It may be," he says to Baruch, in the seventh verse, "that they will present their supplications before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way." Very beautifully does this come in, for none of the other results were to be expected without this the sense of spiritual danger, the heart to turn from sin, the desire for experimental assurance of the Divine forgiveness, are, it is true, not things that we could ever obtain by ourselves, but are the gifts of God, promised to earnest and per. severing prayer. You are told to pray, told that it is the will of God that you should pray. There you have something; use that, and then God will give more. You pray that you may know how to pray; if the heart so turned to God be not yours, yet you desire that you may have that heart, and all hinges upon your honest use of God's kind" contingencies. This merciful experiment He is making with you as to the use of His written Word, "it may be they wall present their supplications before the Lord." If they do, the next step will follow, "they will return every one from his evil way." Such is the design of a gracious God, in ordering Jeremiah to prepare the roll; such were His ends in restoring it after it was destroyed, and presenting it, with all its subsequent enrichments, for the use of us and of our children unto this day.
II. THE ROLL DESTROYED. Jeremiah, as we learn from the narrative, was at this time under restraint; not in prison, where he was not placed until afterwards, but only forbidden by Jehoiakim to exercise his prophetic functions, or even to be present at the services of the temple. Accordingly he gives it in charge to Baruch, a man who had taken all the Lord's words in his mouth, to go up and recite all the words of the Lord in the ears of the people who would assemble in the Lord's house on the fast day. Whether there was no congregation assembled, or in obedience to some unrecorded instruction, the first reading of the roll seems to have taken place in the hearing of a single person only, in one of the side courts in the entrance of the gates of the Lord's house. This noble hearer was Michaiah, the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, the scribe, who was so arrested by the words he had heard that he lost no time in going to tell them, as well as he could remember, to the princes at the time resident in the court of Jehoiakim. Interested in this second-hand recital, the princes thought they should like to hear for themselves, and they accordingly sent for Baruch to the palace, that they might have a private hearing of the words of this roll. And here it concerns us nearly, to watch what effect the reading of this roll had upon the princes. Well, in the first instance, it produced in the minds of these princes sentiments of deep emotion. "It came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid, both one and the other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king all these words." Easily can we conceive how encouraged Baruch would be by this first fruit of a faithful message; he had stirred up the dormant activities of conscience; the arrows of conviction were rankling sharply in the soul, a sudden fear had evidently taken hold of the men, — "they trembled." For this, as we know, is the sequel: the princes tell the matter to the king, the king sends for the book, commands one of his servants to read out of it, and is so irritated at its disclosures, that at the end of the third or fourth leaf he takes the roll from the hand of Jehudi, and having cut it up to pieces that no part of it might be recovered, waits with awful deliberation until all the roll is consumed in the fire on the hearth. The marvel of the sacred writer seems to be less at the burning than at what followed the burning, or rather at what did not follow the blasphemous hardihood that could go so far and not tremble at the mischief itself had wrought, "yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king nor any of his servants that heard all these words." It is just here that an important practical lesson comes in for us, for it tells us what despised religious conviction may lead to; what a soul-hardening tendency there is in warnings which we have felt once, and felt keenly too, but which we resolved afterwards we would put aside and try to forget all about; and the danger is the same to this day. Show me a man who has never been the subject of one serious or solemn thought, whom the Word, whether read or preached, has never penetrated with a sense of sin or danger, and of that man, I say, I have hope. The arrow is yet on the wing, it may pierce him yet. But when we come to the case of a man who, like Judah's princes, has trembled under the power of the Word, or who, like Jehoiakim himself, has felt it to be so pointedly addressed to his own heart that he could bear its presence no longer, then I say there is room for nothing but the most distressing apprehension, and fearful standings in doubt. Ay! better had it been for Elnathan, and Delaiah, and Gemariah never to have seen that roll at which their consciences trembled, than having seen it and having trembled at it, to have relapsed into their former indifference, and even to stand by whilst its dishonoured pages were blazing on the hearth.
III. THE ROLL RESTORED AND REPLENISHED WITH MORE AWFUL JUDGMENTS. Who ever hardened his heart against God and prospered? Who ever kicked against the pricks of an accusing conscience and did not live to mourn in bitterness his folly? The anger of Jehoiakim against the roll was great, because it told him that the king of Babylon should certainly come and destroy the land. And so, like the foolish Brahmin who crushed the microscope with a stone because it showed him insects in his food, he thought to be revenged on the roll by burning it in the fire. Well, what are the consequences? Why, the new roll Jeremiah was to write contained not only the former things, but some worse, even the utter ruin of the royal house, the condemnation of Jehoiakim's posterity to captivity and shame, and the exposure of his own body to the burial of an ass, as an eternal monument of God's displeasure against all who despised the warnings of His written Word. Not only was Jeremiah to rewrite all the words of the Book which had been burned in the fire, but, says the sacred historian, "There were added besides unto them many like words." And what is the great practical lesson I wish you to derive from this part of the history? That the Word of God is imperishable. A singular and wonderful Providence, as we all know, has watched over that Word. Every jot and tittle shall have its complete fulfilment, for indeed there is something beyond the mere writing. Oh, suffer me to remind you of its double aspect, its double lesson, its double tendency, either to strengthen the mind and hopes of the righteous, or to cover with overwhelming hopelessness the prospects of the ungodly and the sinner. Let me say a word first to those who feel that they do not belong to Christ, have no part in the covenant, know well enough they are not washed, not sanctified, not justified by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God. Must I not in all faithfulness say to them, even as Baruch would have said to Jehoiakim when he threw the strips and shreds of heavenly truth into the flame, "Be thou well assured that all the words written in this roll shall come to pass, yes, and there shall be added unto them many like words"? The neglect of the preached Word can but aggravate the condemnation. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." More grateful, however, is it to the minister of the Gospel of love and peace to approach this imperishableness of the written Word from its other side, and see what are the promises to them that fear God. And to them I say, even to all that are in Christ Jesus, to all that have found peace, this unfailing certainty of all that God hath written in His Word is like a footing on the everlasting rock. Yes, it is yours to live in a world of change, changes in nature, changes in Providence, changes in the Church of God, changes in the rolling seasons, changes in your own frames and feelings, and desires and spiritual experiences; and what protection and refuge against your own inconstancy, your own fluctuations of purpose, and will, and power, is it to be able to fall back on the unchanging, eternal, indefeasible Word of promise of the Most High God, of Jesus "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."
(D. Moore, M. A.)
(M. P. Maturin, M.A.)
(E. J. Hardy, M. A.)
(J. Kempthorne, M. A.)
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
(A. Maclaren.)2 Chronicles 34:15-33), who, when the lost book of the law was found, humbled himself and gave instant heed to its warnings and precepts; all the more so because the good king was father of this wicked and defiant one. Truly grace does not run in the blood. The chapter before us relates how Jeremiah had written out a summary of the prophecies concerning the impending captivity, and caused it to be read to the people assembled at a great and special fast in the Temple, and afterward to the princes in private, and finally to the king (vers. 1-19). The object of the special message was one of compassion and pity on the part of Jehovah (vers. 3, 7). It is wonderful how, in the midst of His wrath, God always remembers mercy. The reading of the prophecy to the people evidently made a deep impression, for the news of it was carried to the princes, who sent for Baruch and had him read it to them. They in turn were deeply affected, and said it must be brought before the king. They, however, knew his tyrannical temper, and took two precautions. First, after hearing from Baruch s lips how he came to write this prophecy of woe, they warned him to go with Jeremiah, and both to secrete themselves from the wrath of the king; then they laid the writing up in the house of the scribe (vers. 15-19), and lastly went in to report the matter to the king. These princes seemed favourable to the prophet and to the Word of God, but they feared the king. An evil king can suppress the good that is in his people and prevent a whole nation from repentance or reformation. Men in authority have great privilege, but also great responsibility.
I. THE WORD OF GOD DESTROYED. The burden of the word of Jeremiah, which was a summary of all his prophecies on this point, was that Judah should be carried away captive by the King of Babylon (ver. 29). This was not the first warning, but the gathering up of all past threats; it was God's final word to the king and the people. As it was read, he ordered it bit by bit to be cut away and thrown into the fire until all was consumed. In this action the following points may be noted —
1. The contempt of the king. The princes had put the writing away in the house of the scribe (ver. 20) before they went in to the king. This was a testimony of their respect for a message sent by a prophet of the Lord, and of their fear for its safety. The king, however, had no such feelings of reverence for God's Word. He did not even dignify the document by sending a proper official to bring it; but showed his contempt by telling a page or under-secretary to fetch it. This act was a suggestive prelude to what followed afterward. The Bible, of all books, is entitled to the place of highest honour, and it is a bad sign when this due respect ceases to be manifest.
2. The rage of the king. As the book was being read, the king overlooked the message, which undoubtedly was incorporated, that God hoped that the reading of it might induce them to turn from their sins and claim His promised mercy. Many people, who declaim against what they call the hard and bitter denunciation of sin and of the judgments of God, seem persistently to forget that the Book which condemns sinners to death and hell is mostly taken up with earnest and loving entreaties to repentance, with promises of life and salvation. God was beyond his reach, but" His Word being within his grasp, he poured out his wrath against that. He ordered it to be cut to pieces and burned with fire. This was not a hasty and impulsive action on the part of the king, but deliberate and premeditated. He perseveres in his evil work, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his princes. He was a "proud and haughty scorner, who dealt in proud wrath" (Proverbs 21:24). There are times when remonstrance ceases to be wise, and a wilful sinner must be given up to his chosen way. The reason for his wrath was the evil tidings which the prophet's words brought him. Yet how foolish was his wrath — how impotent his rage! For what did he destroy? Only the parchment on which the Word of God was written; not the Word of God itself. It is related of a heathen princess of hideous countenance, that on looking into a mirror which a missionary had, and seeing her ugliness, she destroyed the glass in rage, and ordered that no more mirrors should be brought into her kingdom. I once saw a man in a railway carriage to whom a leaf of the New Testament had been given, crumple it up in his hand, fling it on the floor, spit on it, and grind it under his heel. This action was as ridiculous as it was impotent. The rage of the hater of God's Word was evoked, but the Word of God was not destroyed.
3. The attitude of the witnesses. There were two classes of witnesses present.(1) The king's servants; his pages and immediate attendants. "Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king nor any of his servants that heard all these words." This implies that the message not only failed to bring about any repentance or desire that the evils threatened might be averted (compare 2 Chronicles 34:19), but that the servants were not even horrified at the action of the king in ordering the writing to be destroyed. They became parties to the act of the king in his wilful unbelief, in his contempt and deliberate defiance of Jehovah. When we join ourselves either in service or companionship with unbelieving men, we must be prepared either to go with them or break from them, when a crisis comes by reason of God's Word. We may serve an ungodly king, like Daniel, if we have the courage to take God's part when occasion comes, or we may have social and business relations with unbelievers, if we are prepared to act in a like loyal manner. But how often a timid Christian finds himself overborne by his wicked companions when they warm themselves at their fire, as with Peter in the High Priest's palace.(2) On the other hand, there were three princes present who "made intercession to the king, that he would not burn the roll; but he would not hear them." They had, however, cleared their skirts and washed their souls from the iniquity. Are we as faithful in all such like emergencies?
4. The baffled king. Having destroyed the writing, the king began to reflect that he had not avoided God's Word or put himself beyond the further reach of it, so long as the scribe and the prophet were at large. He therefore sent to have them arrested. Probably he contemplated their murder, thinking thus he would get rid of the Word. This is an old method with the haters of God. "But the Lord hid them." Let us suppose he had succeeded in getting hold of the prophet and had killed him; would he next seek to destroy God too? This would be the logical course. How men forget that when they have destroyed the outward revelation they have not destroyed the Word of God; and when they have killed the prophets they have not baffled the Spirit by whom the prophets speak. God hid His prophet and His scribe. Man is immortal till God has no further need of him. Let all God s witnesses know of a truth that God can deliver His servants from any manifestation of the wrath of man, if it is best for them and for His cause; and let them know when He does not deliver, it is neither for want of love, faithfulness, nor power, but because all round it is best that they should seal their testimony with suffering or death.
II. THE INDESTRUCTIBLE WORD. The facts in this incident bring out clearly the truth, that man's hatred and rage against God's Word are as impotent as is the broken wave that falls back in spray from the rock against which it has spent itself. In this conflict of man against God's message, we see that it is neither a book nor a man against which the enemies of Christ fight. God can reproduce His Word, either by the same prophet, as He did in this case, or by another. Before the world can get rid of the Gospel it must kill all the believers in the world, and then they must not be too sure that God has not hidden His Word as He hid His prophet, to come forth unexpectedly, as the law came forth in the time of Josiah. Millions of Bibles may be destroyed, and the preachers and witnesses of the Word burned and put to the sword, but it only serves to both increase the Word of God and multiply the witnesses. When will the world learn that they cannot fight against God? Look only at the impotence of men in this conflict in the past. One Herod destroyed the little children, but God hid His Christ; another Herod beheaded John the Baptist, but failed utterly to destroy his testimony. The world crucified Christ; but God raised Him from the dead. The world imprisoned the apostles, stoned Stephen, put James to the sword, persecuted the young Church, but this only served to increase the number of believers and multiply the revelation. Paul wrote more Epistles while in prison than he would have if he had been free. John wrote the Revelation while he was exiled for the Word of God. "The Word of God cannot be broken," or defeated, — as this foolish and wicked king found out. Several points more may be noted in connection with this latter half of our study.
1. God takes note of our treatment of His Word. It is evident that the eyes of the Lord were upon the king while he was burning the roll, from the fact that, immediately afterward, He commissioned Jeremiah to rewrite it.
2. The Word rewritten. "Not one jot or tittle" of God's Word shall pass away till all be fulfilled. What was the king advantaged by his work? What are any of us advantaged by our unbelief? Suppose we say, "I do not believe God's Word," will that alter the fact that it will be carried out to the letter? Suppose instead of destroying God's Word, we keep it closed, never look into it and never go where it is preached, or, reading and hearing, do not heed it; will that prevent it from being fulfilled? Shall our unbelief make God's Word to be a lie? Did the unbelief of the antediluvians prevent the flood?
3. More words added. In the first message God had simply told the king that he and the people would be carried away captive, but now He adds more, saying that for this act of wickedness he himself should be deprived of a direct heir, and his body should be cast out and exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. He would not only bring upon the men of Judah all that He had first declared, but would add an especial punishment to the. king. Cumulative unbelief brings cumulative punishment. With the burial of an ass shall he be buried; dragged and east out far from the gates of Jerusalem, and none shall mourn for him, either as brother, or kindred, or king (Jeremiah 22:19). To mutilate the Word of God, either by adding to it or destroying it, is to bring special additional plagues and sufferings upon the transgressor (Revelation 22:18, 19). Let us learn this solemn lesson in connection with the Word of God. His Word is eternal; it can neither be bound nor broken; that it will not cease in the world until all that is written therein be fulfilled. All the unbelief, neglect, and rage against it are utterly futile (Isaiah 40:6-8).
(G. F. Pentecost.)I. JEHOIAKIM'S USE OR MISUSE OF THE PENKNIFE. Let us talk a little about this famous penknife. In itself it was a very insignificant article. Very unlike was it to its namesakes of to-day, which contain so many other things beside the knife blades that one feels as if one were carrying about an engineer's tool bag and a portable carpenter's shop. The knife Jehoiakim used was a rough specimen of workmanship, doubtless, even though, as it belonged to me king s confidential secretary, it is likely to have been the very best of its kind. Probably it was a straight bit of metal thickened at one end for a handle, flattened and sharpened for a blade at the other end. A pocket-knife it was not, being carried in the oblong writing-case or box along with the ink horn and reed pen. That rough bit of bladed iron was the instrument of the king's spiritual suicide.
II. THE MEANING OF JEHOIAKIM'S CONDUCT.
1. He had formed a resolution against God. The message of the roll asserts the Divine authority over Jehoiakim and his kingdom. He would not permit such interference. He would manage his own affairs. How bright a day was it for some of us when we resolved that we would serve God! But what a black day it must be when the decision is taken that God shall not be served. That was what Jehoiakim meant. He doomed himself henceforward to follow his own will.
2. This resolution was avowed by a public act. Among our red-letter days, if the day of decision for Christ comes first, the day of professing Christ comes next in importance. As days are reckoned in heaven, that would be the exact order. But what a terrible thing to express the opposite decision! It may be quickly and easily done-by the tone of a laugh. Jehoiakim's courtiers would all know, as well as if he had said the words, punctuating each word with a slash of the penknife at the manuscript, "I will not serve God."
3. The decision and profession were impatient and hasty. The entire roll was God's message to the king. Only three or four columns — a very small portion comparatively, was read before the whole was destroyed. To decide against God without hearing Him out, is a madman's act. "Let our minds be open a while longer." Jehoiakim had committed himself, and all the greater part of his people.
4. This hasty action was an insult to God. To tear up a letter unread or in public — and Jehoiakim did both — can have but one meaning. "This letter ought never to have been written." But fancy acting like this towards God, and saying to your Maker, "You have no business to interfere with me!"
III. THE USE OF THE PENKNIFE BY IMITATORS OF JEHOIAKIM IN OTHER TIMES. In many ways it is possible to insult Almighty God by professing a hasty, half-conscious decision that we will let Him manage our life. The penknife is still at work in various ways.
1. One favourite kind of penknife is an insult or injury to God's messenger. God's message is often represented by the man who brings it, and pulling the servant to pieces, in one way or another, is a common expression of revolt against God. Herod's penknife was the sharp sword of his executioner, putting an end to the life of the prophet who had become an incarnate rebuke. Cruelty is not always necessary. A passing slight is quite enough.
2. Similar results may be effected by staying away from a meeting, or severing oneself from a society or class, breaking off an acquaintance with an earnest Christian, and so on. The Bible class is getting rather "warm," as you call it. Conversions are frequent, and it will be your turn soon. So you absent yourself.
3. A more or less sincere profession of scepticism will serve the purpose well. Are there some here ready to decide hastily against God and heaven? Have you listened to the entire message which, in various ways, God has spoken? Have some of us used the penknife in days gone by? Has the message of the Saviour no power to affect us now, because of certain action of ours in the past, which has torn up, as it were, the communication between God and ourselves? Are we on this account conscious of no desire or inclination to be better than we are? Let us humbly entreat the Lord we have insulted to speak again. Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. No, I am not Thy servant; but I fain would be; nor am I sure that I can hear. I destroyed my hearing by my own act; but oh, for the sake of the dear Saviour, who bade the Gospel be preached to every creature, speak again, Lord, and make me listen.
(W. Carey Sage, M. A.)
I. NOW THAT PICTURE OF THE KING WITH THE PENKNIFE IS OFTEN REPEATED IN VARIOUS WAYS. The Bible has been so often attacked by that instrument that if it were not the indestructible Word and work of God it would long since have disappeared. People have always been so busy cutting out what they did not believe, or what they did not like, that really it is only by a perpetual miracle that there is any of it left. I thank God that I have still my Bible, and believe in it in spite of all the cutting and paring down that has been done. Somehow it stands the fire and comes out unharmed, no matter what furnace you pass it through. Critics have their day, and Jehoiakims do their fooling and die, but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.
II. I AM AFRAID WE ALL KEEP THAT INSTRUMENT FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS, AND USE IT WHEN WE DO NOT WISH TO FACE AN INCONVENIENT OR UNWELCOME TRUTH. Men who profess the greatest reverence for the Bible sometimes manage to put out parts which do not harmonise with their conduct and views. There are our good friends who admire, honour, revere, and love Christ as the highest man, but stop short of worshipping Him as Divine. It must surely be a difficult thing for them to read the New Testament without the penknife.
III. I FEAR WE ARE ALL SINNERS, EITHER WITH PENKNIFE OR THE PASTE. We often cut out moral precepts and commandments if they do not quite accord with our conduct. Most of us use the knife on those many words of Jesus and His apostles which warn us against Mammon worship and covetousness and the love of money, and tell us not to pay all our devotions to the people who have it. It makes our conscience easier if we can somehow get these texts put out. Some people do not always like the Fourth Commandment and kindred injunctions which speak to us about honouring father and mother and reverencing the hoary head. "That is quite antiquated prejudice, and out of date," they say; "let the penknife deal with it." There are people who talk far too freely, and not always too truthfully, discussing the faults of friends, and passing on mischievous scandal. I read them what Jesus said: "For every idle word you shall give account." "Oh! is that there?" they say. "I do not believe it; lend me a penknife." And there are Christian people who find it desperately hard to forgive; it is as hard as to get a camel through the eye of s needle. They will keep a grudge and maintain a silent quarrel with a fellow-Christian for years. I open the book for them and read: "If thy brother offend thee seventy times, and seventy times repent, thou shalt forgive him," &c. "Be ye kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any." And they stop me and say, "These things are not in my Bible; I have cut them all out." And there are all those sayings of the Master and His apostles about cheerfulness, gladness, thankfulness — "Be of good cheer; in all things give thanks; be content with such things as ye have; rejoice always, and again I say rejoice." They are the brightest and pleasantest sunshine in the Bible; but some of us use the penknife on them every day. We should all be better Christians if we could lust take the Book as it is, and not be always forgetting or putting out the parts we least like. But let me not forget to say that the penknife is used far more constantly, and more in Jehoiakim's fashion, by those who are not Christians at all, by those who are living wholly irreligious lives. Away with all the warnings, threatenings, counsels, and invitations which stand in the way of our desires. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." "The wages of sin is death." "For all these things God will surely bring thee into judgment." "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" Cut away the roll; burn it; let us forget the words; out of mind is out of existence; the day of reckoning will never come. But it does come, nevertheless! The inevitable hour creeps on; the debt stands though you tear the bill in two and burn both halves. You cannot burn God's ledger in which all the accounts are kept. You will have to pay that bill unless, through faith and repentance and the merits of Jesus, it is all forgiven.
(J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)I. EYES OPENED TO SEE. There was a vast difference between Baruch, whose heart was in perfect sympathy with Jeremiah, and Jehudi or the princes. But there was almost as much between the faithful scribe and the heaven-illumined prophet. The one could only write as the words streamed from those burning lips; he saw nothing, he realised nothing; to him the walls of the chamber were the utmost bound of vision; whilst the other beheld the whole landscape of truth outspread before him, the rocks and shoals on the margin of the ocean, the inrolling storm-billows tipped with angry foam, the gathering clouds, the ship straining in every timber and driving sheer on the shore. This was the work of the Spirit who inspired him, and whose special function it was to open the eye of the seers of the old time to the great facts of the unseen and eternal world, which were shortly to be reduplicated in the world of the temporal and visible. To speak what he knew, and to testify what he had seen — such was the mission of the prophet. In our case there is no likelihood of this. Yet men may be seers still. Two men may sit together side by side. The veil of sense may hang darkly before the one, whilst for the other it is rent in twain from the top to the bottom. Happy are they the eyes of whose heart are opened, to know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power toward them that believe. It is very important that all Christians should be alive to and possess this power of vision. It is deeper than intellectual, since it is spiritual; it is not the result of reasoning or learning, but of intuition; it cannot be acquired in the school of earthly science, but is the gift of Him who alone can open the eyes of the blind, and remove the films of earthliness that shut out the eternal and unseen. It is a thousand pities to be blind, and not able to see afar off, when all around stand the mountains of God in solemn majesty; as the Alps around the Swiss hostelry, where the traveller arrives after nightfall, to eat and drink and sleep, unconscious of the proximity of so much loveliness. If, on the other hand, you have the opened eye, yon will not need books of evidences to establish to your satisfaction the truth of our holy religion; the glory of the risen Lord; the world of the unseen. With the woman of Samaria you will say, "We have seen it for ourselves." They who see these things are indifferent to the privations of the tent-life, or, as in Jeremiah's case, rise superior to the hatred of man and the terrors of a siege.
II. THE USE OF THE PENKNIFE. It is probable that no one is free from the almost unconscious habit of evading or toning down certain passages which conflict with the doctrinal or ecclesiastical position in which we were reared, or which we have assumed. In our private reading of the Scripture we must beware of using the penknife. Whole books and tracts of truth are practically cut out of the Bible of some earnest Christians. But we can only eliminate these things at our peril. The Bible is like good wheaten bread, which contains all the properties necessary to support life. And we cannot eliminate its starch or sugar, its nitrates or phosphates, without becoming enfeebled and unhealthy. It is a golden rule to read the Bible as a whole.
III. THE INDESTRUCTIBLE WORD. Jeremiah wrote another roll. And the facts to which Jeremiah bore witness all came to pass. Neither knife nor fire could arrest the inevitable doom of king, city, and people. The drunken captain may cut in pieces the chart that tells of the rocks in the vessel's course, and put in irons the sailor who calls his attention to it; but neither will avert the crash that must ensue unless the helm is turned.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
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