"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « TULIP on the Dividing Line | Main | The End of the Incarnation By B.B. Warfield »

    Jeremiah's Plaint and Its Answer- Geerhardus Vos

    The Princeton Theological Review 26:481-495. [1928]

    In the third verse of the 31st chapter of Jeremiah we have a prophet’s report of divine speech heard in a revelation-sleep. The content of what was related after the awakening holds a peculiar place among the prophecies of Jeremiah: “Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn out long lovingkindness unto thee.” Whilst a large part of the discourses of this prophet is given to rebuke of sin and prediction of judgment, the message here is one of promise. It transports us into the final world-order, when the chaos and ruin, the sin and the sorrow shall have been overpast, nay changed into their opposites. No wonder that one, who had had to deliver so many prophecies of woe and destruction, should have delighted in seeing and reproducing this vision of restoration and blessedness, that after having been so long employed in rooting up and plucking out, he should have rejoiced more than ordinarily in this planting of new hopes, a pause of rest and healing also for his own weary and distracted soul.

    In taking the comfort of the prophetic promises to our hearts we do not, perhaps, always realize what after the tempests and tumults, in the brief seasons of clear shining which God interposed, such relief must have meant to the prophets themselves. For they had not merely to pass through the distress of the present; besides this they were not allowed to avert their eyes from the terrifying vision of the latter days. In anticipation they drank from the cup “with wine of reeling” filled by Jehovah’s hand. Nor did the prophets see only the turbulent surface, the foaming upper waves of the inrushing flood, their eyes were opened to the religious and moral terrors underneath. The prophetic agony was no less spiritual than physical: it battled with the sin of Israel and the wrath of God, and these were even more dreadful realities than hostile invasion or collapse of the state or captivity for the remnant. In a sense which made them true types of Christ the prophets bore the unfaithfulness of the people on their hearts. As Jesus had a sorrowful acquaintance with the spirit no less than the body of the cross, so they were led to explore the deeper meaning of the judgment, to enter recesses of its pain undreamt of by the sinners in Israel themselves.

    In Jeremiah’s ministry these things are illustrated with extraordinary clearness, partly owing to the individual temperament of the prophet, partly also to the critical times in which his lot had been cast. His was a retiring, peace-loving disposition, which from the very beginning protested against the Lord’s call to enter upon this public office: “Ah Lord Jehovah, behold I know not how to speak, for I am a child” (1:6). An almost idyllic, pastoral nature, he would have far preferred to lead the quiet priestly life, a shepherd among tranquil sheep. Why was this timid lad chosen to be a fortified brazen wall to his people, to hammer out words of iron against the flinty evil of their hearts? And though he surrendered to God for the sake of God, there always seems to have remained in his mind a scar of the tragic conflict between the stern things without and the tender things within. His soul sometimes found it difficult to enter self-forgetfully into the message. A strange compulsion directed his thought and forced its utterance. He sat alone because of God’s hand, filled with indignation. In painful experience he learned that the way of man is not in himself to order his steps. When the impulse of his innermost heart led him to intercede for Israel, the answer would sometimes come: “Pray not thou for this people” (7:16; 11:14; 14:11). There is something Job-like in the cry: “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and of contention to the whole earth” (15:10). Even to the perilous verge of remonstrance with Jehovah did the prophet go in some of these extreme moments: “O Jehovah, thou hast [over-]persuaded me, and I let myself be persuaded; thou are stronger than I and hast prevailed” (20:7). And when actually out of the urge of such nascent revolt, the idea of future refusal of himself to Jehovah assumed form, threatening, “I will not make mention nor speak any more in his name” (20:9), it turned within him as a burning fire shut up in his bones, which he could not contain. Nor was the inner aversion on such occasions confined to his own role in the sad drama, it sometimes reached the point of taking issue with Jehovah on behalf of the people: “Ah Lord, thou has greatly deceived this people, saying, ye shall have peace, whereas the sword reacheth unto the life” (4:10). And surely, in view of the deep chasm in the prophet’s mind, these expressions, and others like them, were, if not excusable with reference to God, yet understandable from Jeremiah’s human standpoint. It was not sinful pessimism, nor morbid world weariness that made the prophet exclaim: “Oh that I could comfort myself against sorrow; my heart is faint within me; oh that I had in the wilderness some lodging-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people and go from them!” (8:18; 9:2).

    Of course we must not for a moment forget that, mingling with this, there was always much of an opposite character, something that made the prophet put himself in Jehovah’s hand, and, forgetful of all else, approve from the heart whatever it was God’s good-pleasure to do or purpose. At such times his soul was as a weaned child within him. Not away from God, but in God he discovered his wayfarer’s lodge with its profound peace. The bitter words were sometimes found and eaten, and turned, as by a miracle of transmutation, into a joy in the heart. But such seasons seem to have been sporadic, and carried no guarantee that, in close succession to them, the opposite state of mind would not gain control, finding utterance in words like these: “Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable? Wilt thou be indeed unto me as a deceitful brook, waters that fail?” (15:18).

    Read more here.

    Posted by Marco on February 22, 2014 11:37 AM

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