The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1)

Long time he had laboured among this perverse people, but to very small purpose, as himself complaineth, {1} after Isaiah, {2} whom he succeeded in his office as a prophet, some scores of years between, but with little good success.

For as in a dying man his eyes wax dim, and all his senses decay, till at length they are utterly lost, so fareth it with commonwealths, quando suis fatis urgentur, when once they are ripe for ruin; the nearer they draw to destruction, the more they are overgrown with blindness, madness, security, obstinace, such as despiseth all remedies, and leaveth no place at all for wholesome advice and admonition.

Lo, this was the case of those improbi et reprobi -“reprobate silver shall men call them” {3} -with whom our prophet had to do.

Moses had not more to do with the Israelites in the wilderness than Jeremiah had with these “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,” {4} as good at “resisting the Holy Ghost” as ever their fathers were.

The times were not unlike those described by Tacitus, concerning which Casaubon saith, Quibus nulla unquam aut virtutum steriliora, aut virtutibus inimiciora, that no times were ever more barren of virtues, or greater enemies to virtues.

And to say sooth, how could they be much better, when the book of the law was wanting for over sixty years, and the whole land overspread with the deeds of darkness?

Quoted Bible verses:

  1. Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?   Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. (Jer 27:13,14)
  2. Then I said, I have laboured in vain,
    I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain:
    yet surely my judgment is with the Lord,
    and my work with my God. (Isa 49:4)
  3. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them. (Jer 6:30)
  4. Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Ac 7:51)

 

The painting: Philippe de Champaigne – Moses with the Ten Commandments (1648)

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