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that then too it is that God draws nigh to us, since he is always gracious to those who hope in him, and to the soul that seeketh him. III. The prophet teaches us again, that good and evil proceed from the commands of the Most High; and that nothing is done here below, but by his will. He instructs us in the duty of persons in affliction, saying, that man ought not to complain for the punishment of his sins; but he ought to search and try his ways, and lift up his heart and hands to God, confessing and forsaking his sins. Lastly, Jeremiah assures us, that God is appeased towards those who humble themselves thus under affliction, and improve under his rod. This doctrine should be well understood and remembered, to be used at all times, particularly in the time of adversity.
In this chapter, which consists of three parts, I. Jeremiah describes the terrible judgments of God upon the Jews, and compares the happy state they were in before their" ruin, with the deplorable condition they were then in. II. He says, that their rebellion, and chiefly the sins of the priests and the prophets, had brought all these miseries upon them. III. He prophesies, that God would deliver his people, and denounces the Divine wrath against their enemies, and particularly against the Edomites.
We are to consider in this chapter, I. The great change that happened in the condition of the Jews, who from a prosperous state were reduced to the greatest misery, being deprived of all the advantages they enjoyed, and overwhelmed with all imaginable evils; for God poured out upon them all the fierceness of his wrath. Thus we see, how those who have been the most favoured of God, feel his severest vengeance when they abuse his mercies. II. Jeremiah says, that all these mercies came upon the Jews for their sins, and particularly for the sins of the prophets, and the iniquities of their priests. These remarkable words show, that one thine which most provokes the wrath of God, is the impiety of persons of a public character, and especially of the ministers of religion, because their depravity is commonly followed by the corruption of the people. III. The threatening here denounced by the prophet against the Edomites, were occasioned by their rejoicing at the ruin of the Jews; and even contributing towards it. From whence it appears, that if those whom God loves are not spared, the wicked and ungodly have no reason to flatter themselves they shall escape unpunished.
This chapter is a prayer, in which Jeremiah intreats the Lord to have compassion upon Jerusalem and the Jews; he represents the greatness of their desolation, confesses that they were justly punished for the sins of their fathers, and earnestly begs of God to restore Jerusalem and his people to their former state.
I. The fervent zeal with which the prophet beseeches the Lord to have compassion on his people, should excite us at all times to pray earnestly for the prosperity of the Church, and the supply of all its wants, whether it be exposed tosufferings, or vice and impiety make cruel havoc in it. II. These words of the prophet should be taken particular notice of; Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities. We must not imagine, that God, who is just and good, punishes children, so as to exclude them from his mercy, for the sins which their fathers have committed; but it often happens, that God, to chastise the fathers, and for the good of the children themselves, exposes them in this life to the calamities which their fathers, by their sins, have
brought upon them. This the captive Jews at Babylon experienced; and this God had threatened them with, when he says in the law, that he would punish the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation; as we daily see it happens in the course of his providence. Lastly, The humble and earnest prayer which Jeremiah made to God to restore the Jewish nation, shows, that when God corrects us, and uses us with the greatest severity, we should have recourse to him by a serious repentance, and implore his mercy; which is the only way to procure a renewal of his favours.
The end of the Book of Lamentations.
BOOK OF THE PROPHET
Ezekiel prophesied in Chaldea, where he was tvith the Jews who had been carried thither with king Jehoiakim, about eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. He prophesied from the fifth year
. of the captivity, for the space of about twenty years; while Jeremiah at Jerusalem was foretelling the same things. Ezekiel was sent by God to instruct and exhort the Jews that were in Chaldea, and to foretell the desolation that was to come upon the Jews who were still in Judea, the taking of Jerusalem, the ruin of several nations, the deliverance of the captive Jews, the coming of the Messiah, the calling of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the kingdom of God.
EZEKIEL relates, I. The time and place where God called him. II. A vision which he saw.
Reflections after reading the chapter.
There are two things that here require our attention, namely, the calling of Ezekiel, and the vision he received from God. I. The calling of the prophet, and the command he received from God to declare the things contained in this Book, engage us to hearken to it with attention and respect. II. The magnificent vision of the four living creatures, and of the four wheels which Ezekiel saw, was a representation of God's glory, which tended to convince the prophet, that God had appeared unto him. It signified, likewise, that God is every where present; that his knowledge and power are infinite; that he governs all things by his providence; and as it was by his will Jerusalem was destroyed, so he would change its condition, and bring the Jews again from their captivity, in a way known only to himself.
I. God commands Ezekiel to speak to the Jews, and to reproach them for their ingratitude. II. He shows him a roll, or a book filled with curses.
The order Ezehiel received from God to speak to the Jews, and to tell them boldly and without fear all that he should command him to declare unto them, shows, that those who are sent by God ought to discharge their commission with zeal, without fearing the malice of men; and always to declare the will of the Lord, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. It appears likewise from hence, that those who are warned, are inexcusable if they neglect to improve by it. The vision of that Book, which was filled with lamentations and woes, signified, that the curses which God had denounced against the Jews by Moses and the prophets, were going to fall heavy upon them; and that they would soon be reduced to the most deplorable condition.