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neglect of duty is a crime so great in God's sight, and one which He will punish so heavily; if the means of blessing are to be withdrawn from those who make no use of them; - and if the servant in the parable were cast into darkness, merely because he was unprofitable, of how much sorer punishment are those servants worthy, who waste and abuse the talents entrusted to them, to purposes the most hateful in the sight of God? Where shall they be found, in that dreadful hour, who have made their wealth the means of oppression; their power, the instrument of cruelty; their wit and wisdom, the ornaments of blasphemy and wicked counsel and false doctrine; their beauty, the enticement to others to do evil; their strength, an occasion of lewdness, of drunkenness, and of violence? O think of this, ye that work wickedness; and do Thou, O blessed Lord, give to each of us a godly sorrow, a lively faith, and a sure and lasting repentance, that we may cease from the works of darkness, and occupy ourselves in the labours of light and love, so that, when Thou shalt return again to reckon with Thy servants, our lot may be with those whom Thou shalt call to partake of Thy glory!



JEREMIAH, V. 23, 24.

This people hath a revolting and rebellious heart, they are revolted and gone; neither say they in their hearts, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season, He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of harvest.

JEREMIAH, the prophet, by whom this charge was brought against the nation of the Jews, and a part of whose writings is appointed for this morning's proper lesson, appears to have lived in a time of peculiar wickedness and misery, when the patience of the Lord was wearied out with the offences of His people, and when He was about to bring on them that grievous destruction and desolation which is known by the name of the Babylonish captivity. Before the blow fell, however, and while as yet their ruin was not completed, the mercy of the Most High was active in warning them of their sins, and inviting them to a timely repentance; and in these warnings and these gracious invitations, Jeremiah was God's appointed instrument and

messenger. How little his reproofs prevailed against their hardened wickedness; — how fiercely they raged against him for courageously telling them the truth; how his concern for the safety of the kingdom was accounted sedition, and his revelations of God's will disregarded as the dreams of madness; how he was insulted, beaten, chained, and cast into a most loathsome dungeon, by those for whose amendment and instruction he laboured, and whom his counsels might have snatched from the wrath to come; how, lastly, all the evil, which he had foretold, came on his stubborn countrymen; how their city and temple, after being defended by them with an obstinacy of courage and endurance almost unexampled, were taken by the Chaldeans, and burnt with fire; how the eyes of the king were put out, after his children had been slain before him; and how all the great men and nobles of the land were carried away, as slaves, to Babylon, all this may be read in the second books of Kings and Chronicles, as well as in the prophecies and lamentations of Jeremiah himself. The whole history forms, indeed, one of the fullest accounts, which God has given us, of His dealings with a sinful and impenitent nation; and one of the most aweful warnings, which the world has received, of the fate of all such as resist the grace, and despise the long suffering, and harden themselves against the

loving correction, of the Father and Judge of mankind.

For, as that, which befel the people of the Jews, may be reasonably expected to befal any other nation, whose offences against God are equally great and grievous with theirs, it be comes the duty and interest of every nation in the world, to take heed, lest they themselves fall into the same abominable practices, for which the Jews were so severely punished; and it is on this account, in no small degree, that the history of the Jews is thus read in our churches, in order that we, taking notice what their peculiar sins were, may learn, with double care, to avoid them, and may thus, by God's grace, escape those miseries which they, for their iniquities, endured.

What those sins were, what sins they were, which were most prevalent in the land, and which, more than all the rest, provoked the indignation of Heaven, may be learned from this and the following chapters. They were, first, idolatry and the worship of false gods, besides and instead of the True. 66 They forsook the Lord, and served strange gods in their land." Secondly, they were guilty of habitual and impious perjury. They swore by God, and as "the Lord liveth;" and yet they "swore falsely." They were, in the third place, guilty


1 Jer. v. 2.

of scandalous uncleanness, "assembling themselves by troops in the harlots' houses." Fourthly, they were covetous, cruel and oppressive to the poor, "setting snares to catch men, having their houses full of deceit, as a cage full of birds, refusing to judge and do right to the cause of the fatherless and needy." And fifthly, They were destitute of a habitual sense of God's presence and power, in the ordinary, and, what we call, the natural dispensations of His mercy and providence. They said not in their hearts, let us now fear the Lord our God who giveth rain, both the former and the latter in his season, and who reserveth for us the appointed weeks of harvest."


Well would it be for the nation, to which we ourselves belong; great would be our public prosperity in this world; and great, the happiness and glory of each of us in the world to come, if in these several particulars, we could stand such an examination, as would make our consciences clear before Him to whom the secrets of every heart are known. It is true, that we are better taught than to bow down to sticks and stones, to worship them; that perjury and uncleanness are, perhaps, less openly committed, than they seem to have been among the Jews; and that the goodness of our equal laws and free constitution secures us from that excessive and shame2 Ver. 26.

1 Jer. v. 7.

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