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get rich by oppression, fraud, and artifice. This is sometimes tki case i and it encourages men of no principle to practise injustice But such riches often leave a man in the midst of his days, whea he wants tnem most, and pleases himself with the thought of their continuance and increase. They will certainly leave him in the eci o£ his davs, when he can carry nothing with him but the guilt, sham:, and remorse of having gotten them unjustly. Then he wiii set himself to have been a fool: however proud he may have been of his sagacity and success, and of the flattery of others. O lit integrity and uprightness preserve us: and let us be rich in good wrki. By acting thus we shall show ourselves wist, and lay ufi in store fit ourselves a good foundation against the time to come.
4. Observe how necessary it is to sanctify the sabbath, jf we desire the favour of God, and the prosperity of our country. Tin is required of kings and rulers, as well as others. No burdens arc to be borne, no common work to be done, no labouring, travelling, carrying out, or fetching in, (even provisions) except in case of absolute necessity. We see what stress God lays upon this duty; he charges the neglect of it as a crime which would bring ruin upon the state. The religious observation of the sabbath will support other branches of religion, v. 21, therefore let us take heed to ourselves. Great caution is needful in a degenerate day, and amidst so many bad examples. Those who, merely to save time on working days, contrive to take journeys, to visit their friends, or follow their business on the sabbath, and, by so doing, deprive themselves of religious advantages, do at least, (however their thoughts may be employed) set a bad example to others, and encourage them to profane the sabbath. Those who do this should attend to the prophet Jeremiah's admonition : and how they can imagine such a conduet to be consistent with the divine authority and law, the design of the sabbath, the solemnity of a christian profession and engagement, or even with seeking the true interest of their country, is astonishing. How they will vindicate it before him, who will give to every man according to his ways and the fruit of his doings, they will do well to consider.
vunr. A V ill.
Cod here, under the tufie of a fiotter, shows his absolute fiower in ditfiosing of nations, and threatens judgments to Judah.
1 r I 'HE word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 JL Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I ill o cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's
house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels, or, wis at 4t work ul.wn the stones. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another
3 vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make [it.]- Then the
в word of the Lord came to me, saying, О house oí Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter's hand, so [art;] ye in mine hand, О house of Israel; I have absolu'e power over I/ice to do an I please, yet I am not inclined to deal.with thee in strict righteousness according
7 to thu true character ; for [At what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and Concerning a kingdom, either by my prophet», or in the course of firmiidence, to pluck up, and to pull
8 down, and to destroy [it ;] If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them; limit change my way of dealing with
9 them. And [at what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation,
10 and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it ;] If it do eril in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them; according to their different behaviour, they shall become the objects of my favour or displeasure.
11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you; I intend to furnish you: return ye now every one from his evil way,
12 and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart ; they were
13 stubborn and would not be refbrm'd. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things; none among them were so stupid, аз to say they would not reform when judgments were coming ufion them, especially when t/iey actually /fit them; the Ninevites,for instance, repented at the preaching of Jonah, but the virgin of Israel hath donc a very horrible thing; Israel, that ought to be a /ture, chaste virgin to the
14 Lord, is worse than they. Will [a man] leave the snow of Lebanon [which cometh] from the rock of the field? [or] shall the cold flowing water» that come from another place be forsaken? 'Will the enow leave Lebanon brfure any rock oftheßeld? Hill men dig fur strange waters perversely, in preference to such a»
flow? Will a thirsty traveller in hot weather leave cool water, that trickles down from Lebanon, or fine »firing water, far a standing^
15 muddy lake ?* Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, to ido/я, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways [from] the ancient paths, to walk in paths, [in] a w»y not cast up; their false prnfthecs and idolatrous priests have led them from the good old way, to walk in a miry dangerous
16 road; To make their Fand desolate, [and] a perpetual hissing; «very one tbat passetli thereby sliall be astonished, and wag his head; tht conaequence will be, that some wilt faty, and ethers will
17 triumfih in their calamities. I will scatter them as with an cast wind befjre the enemr; \ will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
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18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet; юг shall do welt enough since we hccvf so many firiesti, wine mm, and firofihcts en our side. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words; let us lay things to hit charge
19 that may blast his character, and even take away his life. Clive heed to me, О Lord, and hearken not to the voice of them that
20 contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul, lie-member that I stood before thee to speak good for them, [and] to turn away thy wrath from them, though J denounced it; since they are incorrigible, I wilt •not any more intercede. The three last verse» are the firofihet't prediction concerning his enemies, rather than his imfirtcation.
21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their [blood] by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and [be] widows; and let their men be put to death; [let] their young men [he] slain by the sword
22 in battle. Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit
23 to take me, and hid snares for my feet. Yet, Lord, thou kcowest all their counsel against me to slay [me :] forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal [thus] with them in the time of thine anger ; they shall not escape the fiunithment due to their eint.
I. T E T us reverence the absolute power and sovereignty of JLd God. We meet with frequent comparisons in scripture relating to this, which are very beautiful and striking. The potter can mould the clay into what form he jileases: so has God absolute power over his creatures. Our times, and the events of our lives are in his har.d. In his hand are the fates of nations: and therefore we must not dispute his will; but be content with the stations and circumstances in which he pl;ict>s us.
2. Though God be absolutely powerful, yet he is unchangeably ¡ust. His sovereignty is not that arbitrary thing which many people have supposed. God does not say, Because I have your fates in my hand, therefore I will break or raise you, according to my 'will, without "any other regard: but, if a nation repent, and become obedient, I will save them out of the deepest distress: if they go on in sin, I will destroy them when they think themselves most secure. The distinction is very plain, and very important. God distributes his favours as he pleases, for he is a debtor to no man. But he never punishes by prerogative ; or where there is i;ot jjuilt to deserví- it; and in the final distribution of rewards and punishments, he will render to fvrru man according to his Trent*.
3. Let us lament the prodigious stupidity and tbstinr.ry of sinners. No wonder that God calls the conduct of brail с /^rítele thing. They would not give heed to any of Jeremiah's words; but, right or wrong, were determined to act contrary to them. They would not so much as promise to reform; but would follow their own lusts and devices: and they encouraged one another to do so. This is the case of many under a christian name; and rather than part with their sins, they will smite, with their tongue at least, the prophets who reprove them. But God will bring upon them the judgments they despise, and overwhelm them with everlasting destruction.
4. It will be a great satisfaction to us, when censured and reproached, to be conscious that we have not deserved it: but that, on the contrary, we have wished well and endeavoured to do kindness to those who have censured us. This is an amiable part of Jeremiah's character, v. 20, and shows, that his imprecations did not proceed from a malicious, revengeful spirit, but were prophetic denunciations. Thus let us bless them that curse us, and pruy for those that despitefully use us; rendering blessing for cursing. This will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. Be not overcome cf evil, but overcome evil with good. •
By the significant tufic of break ing the fiotter's vessel, Jeremiah is directed to firedict 'he destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. The prophe'.a frequently taught by symbolic actions, as well us by words.
1 7 I 'H U S saith the Lord, Go and get a potter's earthen
JL bottle, or vessel, and [take] of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; that is, the rldt-rs of the fiecple, some of the great council, and the heads of the courses cf the
2 priests; And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which [is] by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the
3 words that I shall tell thee, And say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, that is, ( the princes of the blood, and chief magistrates; Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle; so dreadful will it be that it shall astonish and ternfy every one.
4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, thin holy city, the place of my residence, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their lathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this phsce with the blood of innocents; have improved ufion their fothers' idolatry, and the itrickedness of former kings, and sacrificed their chil
5 dren to AIolcch, or the sun; They have built also the high places of Baal, another name for the sun, to burn their sons with tire [for] burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake [it,] neither came [it] into my mind, ti.i uhich Iex/lreti*
6 ly forbade, Deut. xii. 31. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet. nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaugh
7 ter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place ; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before
. their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth ; they shall be defeated and destroyed, and see the vanity of those contrivances, by ivfrich > they thought to escape my judgments. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing ; every one that passeth thereby shall 9 be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of bis friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and
10 they that seek their lives, shall straiten them. Then shah thou break the bottle, or vessel, in the sight of the men that go with
11 thee,• And shalt say unto tbem, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as [one] breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury [them] in Tophet, till [there be] no place to bury.
12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, and [even] make this city as Tophet, a fitace of
13 slaughter and burials: And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled, by rtason cf the dead bodies there, unburied, as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto
14 other gods.f Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the Lord's house i and said to all the people, to some of ike priests that would not go with him, or could not leave the temfile, and to the fieofile, firobably at the hour of sacrifice, when many
15 were assembled, Thus saith the Lor D of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns, the other cities of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced agaimt it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.
1. T TO W kind is God to lake so many methods to prevent tht IX ruin of sinners. Judgments were to be plainly threatened by Jeremiah, and the causes of them specified. This sermon was
• Probably some had nude a iest of the rrpre sen tat inn in the former chapter, saying. W't have be.:n made and hardened long ago. and shall noe be casilv broken. But the prophet was now to break the vesse1 in their sight, to represent their utter destruction.
t Jostah had defiled this place, by burning dead men's bones there: the filth of the t also was carried into it, *nd a fire kept burning to consume it. Such was rbe Mat* of T--pl.n when this message was delivered. What a dreadful representation vt Jeruwlem anU tbt other cities, which should be made like it! Hence it came to be used as an cm^U ui of i.et;.