"Ah, Lord GOD!" I replied, "Look, the prophets are telling them, 'You will not see the sword or suffer famine, but I will give you lasting peace in this place.'"
No doubt the people to whom Jeremiah was sent had been encouraged in their ungodliness by the faithlessness and sin of their prophets. Blind guides were leading the blind, and with the inevitable result. And here Jeremiah pleads, as an excuse for his people's sin, that they had been thus misled. But God refuses to admit the plea. Now, on this, note -
I. FALSE TEACHING IS SOME EXCUSE FOR EVIL CONDUCT. The deepest instincts of our hearts affirm this. Our Lord himself does so, when he says, "He that knew not his Lord's will and did it not, shall be beaten with few stripes." But this word of his, whilst it allows that lack of teaching is some excuse, denies that it is sufficient (cf. John 19:11). St. Paul also says, concerning the heathen nations, "The time of this ignorance God winked at."
II. BUT IT IS NOT AN ADEQUATE EXCUSE. For:
1. The taught are the creators almost as much as the creatures of their teachers. The people who clamor for smooth things to be prophesied to them will find such prophets forthcoming. Ahab's prophets all of them but Micaiah - were such. It is true, "like priest, like people;" but it is also true, "like people, like priest." The demand creates the supply. The pastors of the Church are the product of the Church, almost as much as the Church is the product of the pastors. What a worldly Church wants it will have, for the woe both of itself and its pastors alike.
2. They have a sure test by which to try all their teachers. "To the Law and to the testimony," etc. Conscience also is ever on the side of God, and is prompt to condemn all teaching that leads to sin. The Holy Spirit likewise pleads in men's hearts for God. And the faithful words of those in whom God's Spirit dwells. None, therefore, are shut up to any human teachers.
3. And where evil teachers have been followed, it has been in spite of the protest which these other higher and surer guides have uttered, or would have uttered had they been suffered so to do.
III. BUT IF IT BE ILL FOR THE TAUGHT, IT IS YET MORE ILL FOR THE TEACHERS. "His blood will I require at the watchman's hands." The most awful of our Lord's denunciations were addressed to such evil teachers (cf. the oft-repeated, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" cf. Ver. 14, etc.). CONCLUSION.
1. Let those who are taught by any human teachers test what they receive by the Word of God. Be as the Bereans (Acts 17:1l).
2. Let those who teach watch anxiously and prayerfully against the temptation to conform their teachings to the likings of their hearers rather than to their needs. Let them remember that the causes of error and false teaching are much more moral than they are intellectual.
3. Let teachers and taught alike sit daily at his feet who said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." - C.
I will give you assured peace. I.
HUMAN LIFE WANTS IT.
1. Uncertainty troubles our life.
2. Delusions embitter our heart.
3. Misgivings weary our soul.
II. GOD ALONE CAN GIVE IT.
1. Peace is not a human commodity, but a Divine boon.
2. Peace comes only to Divinely-prepared hearts.
3. Peace is specifically the Saviour's benefaction.
III. LYING VOICES OFFER IT.
1. False prophets preach peace still.
(1)In our churches, promising ceremonies righteous works it through etc.
(2)In pleasure's scenes, assuring the gay and frivolous of satisfaction, etc.
2. Beguiled dupes are ensnared still.
3. Yet assured peace is available still. May be found by all (Matthew 11:28-30).
Peace is various and versatile. Peace is not mere pleasure, yet there is a pleasure in peace. When there is no longer any offers to be happy, nor any dread of care, pleasure settles to its repose, as a frame that lolls and turns on a luxurious couch by and by folds itself to motionless and dreamy comfort; or as the mountain peak that shot and shafted to its height sublime falls softly off and folds away into the gentle slope, the nooks where lights and shadows play, the curve that modulates the majestic summit to the meek swell of the landscape lowlands, and invests the valley with the mountain grandeur, and mountain grandeur with the placid secret of the lowly vale; the breast that heaved with pleasure in its confirmed rapture comes to rest. Pleasure is not peace, but in Its realisation and fulfilment there is a peace of pleasure. See a little further. Joy is not peace, nevertheless there is a peace of joy in which the mind and heart take counsel with each other. This is delight arriving at repose. Thus, when a strain of music dies away upon the ear, the harmony thrills memory still — the noise ceases, the notes linger and serenade the silence, the silence returns the serenade. Again, pain might be reckoned as the foe of peace, and still there is a peace of pain. Some tranquilities are gendered by adversity alone. The peace found in pain cannot be otherwise discovered nor elsewhere known. When one has borne excruciating pang or undergone sore struggle, and can say, It is familiar now; I have been through the worst of it, and have survived; or where one can even set out about such an undertaking, and although outwardly the infliction or affliction has yet to be encountered, that moment takes on its own radiance, and the mind has upon effective grounds prepared itself for all, anticipated all, looked through all resolutely, braced now and nerved, knitted and compacted; the resolve is half the readiness, the readiness is all the conflict — the endurance is the victory, as of one whose valour makes his foes to tremble, as the Spartan band or the Royal Guard by their very presence put the enemy to flight. When the heart and soul are set in resolution, like a regiment kneeling with fixed bayonets, and so the onset is taken with a will, and the triumph is anticipated in advance, there ensues a serenity which is of itself a triumph, a fortitude which is in itself a conquest and a coronation. It is thus that there can come into the heart the peace of pain. It has distinct varieties. The peace of suffering in physical endurance must not be undervalued. There is such a thing as is indicated by the words, to suffer and be strong, whereby that which in another would enforce an outcry or insist upon a groan — that which even to the same sufferer, at another time, coming by stealth or startling, would utterly unman the nature, has become a manageable trial, to be confronted, to be endured, and to be looked through and through, it may be with bated breath and set teeth, but still at bay, until the paroxysm faints away into the peace, and the strong mastery of the resolve carries the torture of the flesh, and rules the throb of the nerves by its volition. There is a pain peace not to be despised — it may be the peace of peril. Presence of mind is power of help. The war horse stands motionless while the guns emit their bloody blasts and the carnage overflows. The young hero leaps upon the ramparts, the veteran holds the fort. The peace of peril is the opposite of peril panic. Panic huddled the fleeing, frightened throng, so that none could escape from the blazing building; peace would have found the fire escape; peace would have opened the back stairs. And thus it is in life at large: panic is peril's peril, but peace is peril's protection — peril's safe control. And of pain peace another branch is peace of sorrow, peculiar to itself. It does not neutralise the grief, it softens and enchants it. When sorrow has undergone its first wild shock, when cries are stilled and tears are dried, a hush that sinks to softer sorrow, as a gale dies to a zephyr breeze, comes in upon the gloomy void, and sorrow in its silence, sorrow in its sanctity, can find sorrow peace — the very peace of pain. And so it is that in all these varieties, and under all vicissitudes like these, the grace within enkindles peace without. And when the Finite is in treaty with the Infinite, the creature in reconciliation with his Maker, the soul, possessed of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, can prove that paradox of life and earth — the peace of God which passeth all understanding.
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