I. THE DAY OF DELIVERANCE.
1. This was a day of need and of distress, of sore need and of bitter distress.
2. It was a day of prayer, a day in which Divine aid had been zealously and urgently implored.
II. THE VOICE OF THE DELIVERER. "Thou saidst, Fear not!" How often are these words represented by the prophets to have been spoken by Jehovah! How often by the evangelists to have been spoken by Christ! They seem to constitute a "note" of Divine utterance. They are as reassuring and consolatory to man as they are appropriate and becoming to God.
III. THE FACT OF DELIVERANCE. Comforting words are welcome; how much more the exercise of mighty power! This passage depicts
(1) the approach of the mighty One, and
(2) the redemption of the captive's life.
What was literally true of Jeremiah's bodily condition is true of the spiritual state of sinful man; and all temporal interpositions are an emblem of the delivering, the redemptive grace of God in Jesus Christ.
IV. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF DELIVERANCE. The testimony of the prophet is an example to all who have experienced the blessedness of Divine love and grace. Such acknowledgment should be grateful, cordial, public, and everlasting. - T.
1. When the godly do rightly pray unto the Lord, they have most notable experience of His favour towards them.(1) Reasons.(a) God performeth His promise unto them (Psalm 50:15; Matthew 11:28).(b) Their affections are carried into heaven, where is the fulness of joy, from earthly things that are full of vexations.(2) Uses(a) To teach us that we, therefore, are not heard when we pray, because we call not aright.(b) To teach us to labour with ourselves, that we may increase in fervent and frequent prayer.(c) To reprove them that either account fervent prayer needless, or are negligent in it.
I. THE CONDESCENDING VISITATION OF GOD'S PRESENCE AND GRACE.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee: Thou saidst, Fear not.
I. Let us set forth some sort of AN EXPLANATION OF THIS WONDER.
1. The first thought I would suggest to you is that men have ever been in the thoughts of God. Of the eternal wisdom we read, "My delights were with the sons of men." Long before man was created it was in the eternal purpose that such a singular and specially favoured being should be formed; and all things concerning covenant purposes and designs were written in that book into which angels may not look. At this moment the whole conformation of humanity on the face of the globe bears a direct relation to the ultimate Church of God. Thrones and crowns must all be subordinate to the main purpose of God concerning his elect; it has been, and it shall be so, even to the end.
2. God hath drawn nearer to us than we have as yet hinted at, in becoming tenderly near in nature. If I were in trouble in a foreign land, it would be pleasant to hear the voice of an Englishman; it would be even more encouraging to spy out a neighbour, a fellow citizen of the same town; but most of all would it be cheering to perceive that a dear friend, a brother, a husband was to the front on our behalf. Such a near and dear friend is Jesus to each one of those the Father hath given Him. His nature is love itself. He will, He must, come to you that are in sorrow, and sorrow with you, and thus cheer your hearts; for not in vain does He wear your nature, not in vain in that nature has He suffered and died for you.
3. Nor is this all. The Lord Jesus was specially near to His people in the days of His life on earth. Jesus was the most manlike of all men. He draws us to Himself, and the nearer we come the more fully we appreciate Him. If Jesus came thus near to men in His life on earth, do you wonder that He draws near to them now?
4. Carefully notice that this was a nearness to sinful men. You and I are sinners too, and our Redeemer's nearness to the sinners of Judea meant nearness to us.
5. Jesus Christ came still nearer to us in His death. "For the transgression of my people was He stricken." "He bare the sin of many"; He was made "sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." This is coming wonderfully near to us.
6. He is now in heaven; turn your thoughts up to Him there. In heaven He is still perpetually near us. He has carried our nature into heaven. He is member of heaven's high Parliament for the sons of men, and He holds His seat as such. He is head over all things to His church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. What is He doing in heaven? He is not only representing us, but He is preparing a place for us: making a niche in heaven for you, a place in heaven for me; and all the while He is continually offering intercession for His people.
7. Jesus may well come near to His people, for there is a mystical union which ensures it. A Divine doctrine this, of which Paul saith, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church," and this in relation to the marriage union. He went down to the depths with us, that He might bring us up into the heights with Himself, that there His enthroned bride should be forever with Him, a queen more glorious than eternity had ever seen.
II. THE WONDER ITSELF.
1. By no means is this wonder at all contrary to expectation, when expectation is founded upon an enlightened understanding. It is natural, it is necessary, that Christ should come near to a people whom He loves so well.
2. But, if you have ever enjoyed this communion, let me help you to describe it, that you may wonder at it. What is the manner in which God draws near to His people in their time of trouble? At times He draws near to us by a secret strengthening of us to bear up when we are under pressure. We may have no marked joys, nor special transports; but quiet, calm, subdued joy rules the spirit. Furthermore, the good Lord often vouchsafes to His people in their time of great pain and weakness and weariness a doubly vivid sense of His love. At such times the Lord grants us a sensible assurance of His sympathy with us. We feel that every stroke of the rod comes distinctly from a Father's hand, who doth not afflict willingly. The Lord draws near to His people's souls sometimes by a very speedy and remarkable deliverance out of the trouble under which they groan. Did He not bring up Joseph out of the prison house and set him on the throne of Pharaoh? He can do the like with you if He wills, ere your sun has gone down.
3. There seems to be some surprise concerning the memorable graciousness of God. "Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee." Then, I suppose, there were other days in which he had not called upon God, or at least had not done so so memorably; but in the first day when I called upon Thee thou drewest near to me. Does not that give us a hint, as if he said, "I had neglected my God, I had failed to apply to Him; my faith had been asleep, but as soon as ever I awoke the Lord drew near to me."
4. There seems to me also to be a Nota bene here, a kind of hand in the margin to point out the promptness of God. "Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee," — the very day he called God came; no sooner the prayer than the answer. Oh, the blessed quickness of God.
5. Observe the extreme tenderness of all this. You remember that text, "He giveth liberally, and upbraideth not." Here is an illustration of it. He comes to His poor, suffering, downcast people, and what He says to them is not — "You should not have done so-and-so; this is very wrong of you; I must terribly correct you." No; but He says, "Fear not, I have forgiven thee; and I will deliver thee."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. It supposes all obstacles to His approach removed.
2. It asserts an actual intercourse with God.
3. It asserts that the tokens of His love were enjoyed; and nearness and familiarity of friendly communication. It implies also the influences and consolations of the Holy Spirit: for it is by His Spirit that God is pleased to maintain converse with His people.
II. THE SEASON WHEN THIS APPROACH TO THE MIND WAS ENJOYED. "In the day that I called upon Thee." Observe that this was a day of trouble.
1. This dungeon may be considered as a representation of temporal adversity, or spiritual distress; to both of which the children of God are subject.
2. A day of trouble ought to be a day of prayer. "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray."
3. God never treats with indifferences the prayers of His children.
4. When God, in answer to the prayers of His people, is pleased to draw near to them, it must have a most reviving influence on the mind.
III. THE ANIMATING EFFECTS OF SUCH VISITATIONS FROM GOD ON THE MIND.
1. The best and most eminent believers may be the subjects of fear. In the animal world, the lion is distinguished by his courage, the hare by its timidity. And thus in human minds there is a vast diversity: some are bold and unacquainted with the passion of fear; others are the contrary, and tremble like an aspen leaf, and are liable to fear even where no fear is.
2. But there in everything is a consciousness of God's presence with us to disarm these terrors. "Thou saidst, Fear not." God says this by His word and spirit, and by His providence, and by the exhortations of Christian friends. And if He be with you, what have you to fear? In concluding this subject, first, admire the condescension and grace of the Divine Being, that He is pleased thus to notice the circumstances in which we are placed, and to afford relief under every painful dispensation.
3. We should be led to inquire whether we know anything of the approach of God to the mind.
4. I infer the misery of those who are far from God, and strangers to spiritual intercourse. "Behold all that are far from Him perish."
2. The Lord doth give most notable encouragements and comforts unto those that rightly worship Him.(1) Reasons.(a) He doth thereby manifest His love unto His servants.(b) He will daunt the enemies by their wonderful patience, constancy, comfort, and courage.(c) Others may be allured by their example to trust in Him.(2) Uses.(a) To reprove them that account the patience of the godly, sottishness; their courage, desperateness; their constancy, obstinacy.(b) To teach us that in walking uprightly, and calling upon God for His assistance, we shall be assured that He will be with us, howsoever He seem for a time to neglect us.
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