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Jeremiah 26:14-15

14. As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.

14. Et ego, ecce ego in manu vestro, facite mihi sicuti bonum, vel sicuti rectum erit in oculis vestris.

15. But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.

15. Veruntamen sciendo seite, quod si vos occideritis me, sanguinem purum (vel, innoxium) vos ponetis super vos et super urbem hanc, et super habitatores ejus; quia in veritate misit me Jehova ad vos, ut loqueror in auribus vestris cunctos istos sermones.

 

Jeremiah, after having exhorted the princes, the priests, and the whole people to repent, and having shewn to them that there was a remedy for their evil, except by their obstinacy they provoked more and more the wrath of God, now speaks of himself, and warns them not to indulge their cruelty by following their determination to kill him; for they had brought in a sentence that he deserved to die. He then saw that their rage was so violent, that he almost despaired of his life; but he declares here that God would be an avenger if they unjustly vented their rage against him. He yet shews that he was not so solicitous about his life as to neglect his duty, for he surrendered himself to their will; “Do what ye please,” he says, “with me; yet see what ye do; for the Lord will not suffer innocent blood to be shed with impunity.”

By saying that he was in their hand, he does not mean that he was not under the care of God. Christ also spoke thus when he exhorted his disciples not to fear those who could kill the body. (Matthew 10:28.) There is no doubt but that the hairs of our head are numbered before God; thus it cannot be that tyrants, however they may rage, can touch us, no, not with their little finger, except a permission be given them. It is, then, certain that our life can never be in the hand of men, for God is its faithful keeper; but Jeremiah said, after a human manner, that his life was in their hand; for God’s providence is hidden from us, nor can we discover it but by the eyes of faith. When, therefore, enemies seem to rule so that there is no escape, the Scripture says, by way of concession, that we are in their hands, that is, as far as we perceive. We ought yet to understand that we are by no means so exposed to the will of the wicked that they can do what they please with us; for God restrains them by a hidden bridle, and rules their hands and their hearts. This truth ought ever to remain unalterable, that our life is under the custody and protection of God.

We now, then, see in what sense Jeremiah regarded his life as in the hand of his enemies, not that he thought himself cast away by God, but that he acknowledged that loosened reins were given to the wicked to rage against him. But we must at the same time bear in mind why he said this; after having conceded that his life was in their hand, he adds, yet knowing know ye, that if ye kill me, ye will bring innocent blood upon yourselves. 167167     “And upon this city,” etc., according to our version and all the early versions and that of Calvin; but the preposition is different, and might be rendered “against:” by killing him, they must have brought the guilt of innocent blood on themselves as perpetrators, and against the city and its inhabitants as having allowed and countenanced such a deed. — Ed But he had said before that they might do what seemed them good and right 168168     “Meet,” in our version, is not the correct word; the term signifies what is just and right. The Sept. renders the phrase very loosely, “as it is expedient and as it is best for you.” The Vulg. is nearly the original, “what is good and right in your eyes;” literally it is, “as good and as right in your eyes.” — Ed Good and right here is not to be taken for a judgment formed according to the rule of justice, but for a sentence formed iniquitously according to their own will. This is a common mode of speaking in Hebrew. Jeremiah then testifies that he was not solicitous about his life, for he was prepared to offer himself, as it were, as a sacrifice, if the rage of his enemies should go so far. But in warning them to beware of God’s vengeance, his object was not his own safety, but it was to stimulate them to repentance. He then plainly says that he did not fear death, for the Lord would presently shew himself to be his avenger, and that his blood also would be so precious in the sight of God, that the whole city, together with the people, would be punished, were they to deal unjustly with him.

But let us attend to what follows, even that God had sent him. He now takes this principle as granted, that it could not be that God would forsake his servants, to whom he has promised aid when oppressed by the ungodly. God, indeed, ever exhorts his ministers to patience, and he would have them to be prepared for death whenever there is need; yet he promises to bring them help in distress. Jeremiah then relied on this promise, and was thus persuaded that it could not be that God would forsake him; for he cannot disappoint his people, nor forfeit his faith pledged to them. As, then, he was fully persuaded of his own calling, and knew that God was the author of all his preaching, he boldly concluded that his blood could not be shed with impunity. All faithful teachers ought to encourage themselves, for the purpose of discharging strenuously the duties of their office, with this confidence, — that God who has committed to them their office can never forsake them, but will ever bring them help as far as it may be necessary. It now follows, —


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