Jeremiah 17

* The fatal consequences of the idolatry of the Jews. (1-4) The

happiness of the man that trusts in God; the end of the opposite

character. (5-11) The malice of the prophet's enemies. (12-18)

The observance of the sabbath. (19-27)

1-4 The sins which men commit make little impression on their

minds, yet every sin is marked in the book of God; they are all

so graven upon the table of the heart, that they will all be

remembered by the conscience. That which is graven in the heart

will become plain in the life; men's actions show the desires

and purposes of their hearts. What need we have to humble

ourselves before God, who are so vile in his sight! How should

we depend on his mercy and grace, begging of God to search and

prove us; not to suffer us to be deceived by our own hearts, but

to create in us a clean and holy nature by his Spirit!
5-11 He who puts confidence in man, shall be like the heath in

a desert, a naked tree, a sorry shrub, the product of barren

ground, useless and worthless. Those who trust to their own

righteousness and strength, and think they can do without

Christ, make flesh their arm, and their souls cannot prosper in

graces or comforts. Those who make God their Hope, shall

flourish like a tree always green, whose leaf does not wither.

They shall be fixed in peace and satisfaction of mind; they

shall not be anxious in a year of drought. Those who make God

their Hope, have enough in him to make up the want of all

creature-comforts. They shall not cease from yielding fruit in

holiness and good works. The heart, the conscience of man, in

his corrupt and fallen state, is deceitful above all things. It

calls evil good, and good evil; and cries peace to those to whom

it does not belong. Herein the heart is desperately wicked; it

is deadly, it is desperate. The case is bad indeed, if the

conscience, which should set right the errors of other

faculties, is a leader in the delusion. We cannot know our own

hearts, nor what they will do in an hour of temptation. Who can

understand his errors? Much less can we know the hearts of

others, or depend upon them. He that believes God's testimony in

this matter, and learns to watch his own heart, will find this

is a correct, though a sad picture, and learns many lessons to

direct his conduct. But much in our own hearts and in the hearts

of others, will remain unknown. Yet whatever wickedness there is

in the heart, God sees it. Men may be imposed upon, but God

cannot be deceived. He that gets riches, and not by right,

though he may make them his hope, never shall have joy of them.

This shows what vexation it is to a worldly man at death, that

he must leave his riches behind; but though the wealth will not

follow to another world, guilt will, and everlasting torment.

The rich man takes pains to get an estate, and sits brooding

upon it, but never has any satisfaction in it; by sinful courses

it comes to nothing. Let us be wise in time; what we get, let us

get it honestly; and what we have, use it charitably, that we

may be wise for eternity.
12-18 The prophet acknowledges the favour of God in setting up

religion. There is fulness of comfort in God, overflowing,

ever-flowing fulness, like a fountain. It is always fresh and

clear, like spring-water, while the pleasures of sin are

puddle-waters. He prays to God for healing, saving mercy. He

appeals to God concerning his faithful discharge of the office

to which he was called. He humbly begs that God would own and

protect him in the work to which he had plainly called him.

Whatever wounds or diseases we find to be in our hearts and

consciences, let us apply to the Lord to heal us, to save us,

that our souls may praise his name. His hands can bind up the

troubled conscience, and heal the broken heart; he can cure the

worst diseases of our nature.
19-27 The prophet was to lay before the rulers and the people

of Judah, the command to keep holy the sabbath day. Let them

strictly observe the fourth command. If they obeyed this word,

their prosperity should be restored. It is a day of rest, and

must not be made a day of labour, unless in cases of necessity.

Take heed, watch against the profanation of the sabbath. Let not

the soul be burdened with the cares of this world on sabbath

days. The streams of religion run deep or shallow, according as

the banks of the sabbath are kept up or neglected. The degree of

strictness with which this ordinance is observed, or the neglect

shown towards it, is a good test to find the state of spiritual

religion in any land. Let all; by their own example, by

attention to their families, strive to check this evil, that

national prosperity may be preserved, and, above all, that souls

may be saved.

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