And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah.…
These verses plainly show this much forgotten but never failing truth. They tell how the land of Judah, desolate, unprotected, and oppressed, could be and should be made a happy land for them. Whilst Egypt, the land they hoped so much from, should bring on them all the sorrows which they thought by going there to escape. Thus we are taught that it is according to God's favour our lives are blessed or unblessed, bright or dark. Mere circumstances are unable to ensure either the one or the other, but the presence or absence of God's favour alone. Now -
I. MEN DO NOT THINK THIS. See their frantic endeavours to make their circumstances pleasant. And how they struggle against adversity, as if all evil were contained in that! Their opinion is very clear.
II. BUT YET IT MUST BE. For:
1. Our happiness or unhappiness depends entirely on the way in which we regard these circumstances. That is to say, it depends upon our mind, upon that which is within us rather than that which is without. Hence what gives great pleasure to one yields none or even the reverse of pleasure to others. The merry laugh of children, e.g,, to one in deep sadness, or irritable, or discontented. And vice versa. But:
2. God has constant access to the minds of us all, and he has made their satisfaction to depend upon him. "Nostrum cor inquietum est donec requiescat in te" (Augustine). He can flood them with joy in the darkest hour - Paul and Silas in the dungeon at Philippi; and he can make the most favourable circumtances powerless to render a man happy - Haman because of Mordecai; the conscience stricken, those from whom for any cause he hides his face, are illustrations. And abundant facts prove the powerlessness of mere circumstance over the minds of men.
III. THE INFLUENCE THAT THESE CONSIDERATIONS OUGHT TO HAVE UPON US.
1. Not to lead us to despise circumstances, and so to be careless as to the outward lot of either ourselves or others. For though they have not all power over the mind, God has given them very much power - a power that they lose only when he pleases.
2. But to estimate them rightly. This we can only do as we bring into view the unseen and the eternal, which can only be as we live in view of it by the habit of prayer, thought, and practical regard to God's will as expressed in conscience and his Word. So shall our balances be adjusted, and we shall rightly judge. There is a machine employed at the Mint of such perfect accuracy and finish that, when a number of sovereigns are tested by it, it will automatically and instantly and infallibly reject every one that fails in the least degree to come up to the proper standard of weight. So if we thus bring into view the unseen and eternal, all the crowd of facts and events that come before us day by day will each one spontaneously, promptly, and infallibly be judged, and we shall neither under nor over estimate them but as we ought.
3. To seek above all things the favour of God; for "in his favour is life, and his loving kindness is better than life itself." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.