A Burning Fire Within
Jeremiah 20:9
Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name…

The mental condition of the prophet here recalls the beginning of his ministry. Just as he then shrank from taking its responsibility upon him, so now he is ready to throw it up in despair. His life seems to him altogether a failure. He is a disappointed and defeated man. He will "make mention of the Lord no more, nor speak any longer in his Name." Many an earnest ministering spirit has felt like this, overborne by the force of the world's evil, impatient of the slow progress of the kingdom of truth and righteousness. But the prophet cannot so easily throw up his work. God, as at the beginning, is "stronger than he," and holds him firmly in his grasp; holds him to his office and ministry by the force, not so much of outward circumstance as of a spiritual persuasion, by the strong necessity of an inward law. "His Word was in my heart as a burning fire," etc. Note here -

I. THE INHERENT PROPERTY OF THE WORD OF GOD AS A LIVING POWER IN THE SOULS OF MEN. "A burning fire" (see also Jeremiah 23:29). All Divine truth possesses a quality that may justly be thus represented. The Law that came By Moses was a "fiery Law," of which the thunders and lightnings of Sinai were the appropriate associations (Deuteronomy 32:2). And even the inspiration of gospel truth was fitly symbolized by "cloven tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3). There is not only light but heat, not only a flame but fire. The moral effects are manifest.

1. Melting. Icy coldness, hard indifference, stubborn self-will, impenitence, etc. - all these are softened by the fire of God when it really enters into the soul. A tender sensibility is thus created that prepares it to receive all Divine impressions.

2. Kindling. Heaven-tending affections are awakened by it that did not exist before. Latent germs of nobler and better feeling are quickened into new life. There is no limit to the holy energies that may be developed in our nature by the inspiration of the truth of God. In this good sense we may say, "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!"

3. Consuming. It destroys everything in us that is destructible. All that is false, selfish, sensual - all that is "of the earth, earthy" - has in it the elements of dissolution and decay, and cannot resist the purging, purifying force of Divine truth. The dross is consumed that the precious gold may come forth in all its beauty and purity. The solid grain is quickened into fruitful life, the chaff is burnt up as with unquenchable fire.

II. THE OBLIGATION IT IMPOSES. "I was weary with forbearing," etc. (see Jeremiah 6:11). The soul of the prophet was acted upon by a force that overcame, not only the weakness of his fears, but the strength of his self-will and of every motive that would induce him to relinquish his work. Every earnest, heroic servant of truth is sensible of this inward constraint. It is the constraint

(1) of a Divine call,

(2) of a masterful conscience,

(3) of conscious power to benefit others,

(4) of an instinctive impulse to communicate the good one's own soul possesses.

St. Paul stands before us as a conspicuous example of this when he says, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me," etc. (1 Corinthians 9:16). There is no clearer mark of a noble, Christ-like nature than submission to such a constraint as this. - W.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

WEB: If I say, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I can't [contain].

The Sorrow and Joy of God's Servant
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