Therefore you shall speak all these words to them; but they will not listen to you: you shall also call to them…
God has been putting into the mouth of His servant Jeremiah a varied message of reproof and counsel, of promise and blessing. The message contains equal encouragement to those who should repent, and denunciations of wrath on all who, rashly confident in external privileges, should continue to insult by the impiety of their lives. Thus, there is a close resemblance between the sermon which the prophet was instructed to deliver and those which, in our days, the ministers of God must utter. We know it to be our business, in dealing with a mixed assembly of those who make profession of religion and those who make none, to use language very similar to that which Jeremiah here employs; conjuring men that they "trust not in lying words which, cannot profit," but that they "amend their ways and their doings, lest God's anger and God's fury be poured out and burn, and there be none to quench it." Here, then, it is, that our text comes in upon us with all its startling and perplexing assertion; that losing sight of the peculiar circumstances of the Jews, we may regard the ministers of the Gospel as commanded to preach, even if beforehand assured that their preaching would be fruitless. We cannot but think, that, determining by human computation what course would be the most fraught with advantage to their hearers, preachers would reckon it best to keep silence if they were certain none would be converted by their message. It admits not of question, that men, who hear the Gospel, and give no heed to its announcements, are disadvantaged by the very circumstance of having been its auditors. Now there was actually given to Jeremiah that information, which, for the sake of argument, we have supposed imparted to ourselves. Yet he was not on this account to abstain from delivering his message. The certainty of rejection was in no degree to interfere with the duty of proclamation. Now if ineffectiveness of preaching in bringing round conversion, supposing it previously ascertained, would be no sufficient reason for abstaining from preaching, there must be ends answered by the publication of the Gospel over and above that of the gathering in of the elect people of God. The way which shall be made by the preached Word in each separate case is necessarily already known to the Omniscient, so that with God it is previously a thing of as much certainty as it afterwards can be with ourselves, who will receive and who reject the proffered salvation. The foreknowledge has no influence on the reception; it lays no constraint on the will, and it gives no bias to the will. And now, allowing only that God's foreknowledge, and not God's predestination, enters as a prerequisite into such a declaration as that made in our text, the question still remains to be examined, why God should enjoin the preaching of the Gospel in cases where He is assured that this preaching will be ineffective? We think that the grand answer to this question is to be found in the demands of that high moral government which God undoubtedly exercises over the creatures of this earth. Let it be remembered, that each amongst us lives under the moral government of God, which takes its character from the interference of Christ; that we are to be tried before the assembled universe as beings to whom was offered deliverance through a Surety; and is it not clear that, if this our last trial be conducted with that rigid justice which must characterise every procedure of God, it shall be made evident to every rank of intelligence that those that perish might have been saved; and forasmuch as they are condemned for having rejected salvation, salvation had been literally placed within their reach!
(H. Melvill, B. D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.