Thus saith Jehovah, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; and go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the East gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee…. Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee; and shalt say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again.-JEREMIAH xix. 1,2,10, II.
THE VESSEL BROKEN.
IF men are determined to love evil and falsity, and to live in sin, and to neglect the Divine warnings, and to resist the Divine leadings and teachings, and to prefer evil, rather than goodness; then such men fix and confirm their hearts in evil character; and they reach a condition in which they are no longer plastic to the hand of the Divine Potter; but they have baked themselves hard and set, in the fires of self-love; and their elasticity has gone. And when they break, they cannot be made whole again.
And then it will be no longer possible for the Divine Potter to form any useful vessel from such men, because they have permanently rejected and resisted any Divine leadings. Henceforth, such men, spiritually speaking, are good for nothing; for not even the Divine skill can induce them to be remodeled into anything good. They have formed a hell in their own hearts and lives, and in which they prefer to live.
In the text and context, the literal reference is to Israel, living in confirmed evil. As long as any capacity for goodness remained uncorrupted in the Israelites, they were, to the Lord, as clay in the hands of the potter; and it was still possible for them to be re-formed remodelled into better conditions of character. By various means, as great trials, droughts, wars, pestilences, and even severe captivity abroad, the Lord sought to re-form this stiff-necked people. But the inward and spiritual sense of our text applies to all men, at all times, who are in similar conditions of character. For Israel represented the church in men; not merely the external organizations of the church, but more especially the inward church, in the minds of men, the principles which form human character and life.
You will observe that; in the context, certain punishments were pronounced upon the rebellious Israelites, somewhat resembling the curses pronounced by Moses, ages before. These curses are representative; and they apply to the evil and false principles which dwell in the minds of unregenerate men, and which curse the men who cherish such things. God does not curse any man, however evil, but He seeks to save the man, by reformation and regeneration. “Evil shall slay the wicked,” because it is the nature of evil to destroy spiritual life. We have need to fix our minds upon the fact that it is absolutely necessary for every man to be re-formed and regenerated, before he can be saved from the hell which evil makes in those who love it.
VESSELS OF THE LORD.
“Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of Jehovah.” “The vessels of Jehovah,” spiritually, are the human heart and intellect, which were formed to be useful vessels, holding the heavenly love and the spiritual intelligence which belong to angelic men. And to this purpose we should devote our abilities. Spiritually, our hearts and intellects are not our own, but they are our Lord’s; and we have no spiritual right to fill them with the things of evil and falsity, which mar the vessels of the Lord, and destroy His image in our manhood. “The steps of a good man are ordered by Jehovah, and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for Jehovah upholdeth his hand.”
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903