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Jeremiah by William Smith


First of all, I thank the Baird Trustees for their graceful appointment to this Lecture of a member of what is still, though please God not for long, another Church than their own. I am very grateful for the privilege which they grant me of returning to Glasgow with the accomplishment of a work the materials for which were largely gathered during the years of my professorship in the city. The value of the opportunity is enhanced by all that has since befallen our nation and the world. The Great War invested the experience of the Prophet, who is the subject of this Lecture, with a fresh and poignant relevance to our own problems and duties. Like ourselves, Jeremiah lived through the clash not only of empires but of opposite ethical ideals, through the struggles and panics of small peoples, through long and terrible fighting, famine, and slaughter of the youth of the nations, with all the anxieties to faith and the problems of Providence, which such things naturally raise. Passionate for peace, he was called to proclaim the inevitableness of war, in opposition to the popular prophets of a false peace; but later he had to counsel his people to submit to their foes and to accept their captivity, thus facing the hardest conflict a man can who loves his own -- between patriotism and common sense, between his people's gallant efforts for freedom and the stern facts of the world, between national traditions and pieties on the one side and on the other what he believed to be the Will of God. These are issues which the successive generations of our race are called almost ceaselessly to face; and the teaching and example of the great Prophet, who dealt with them through such strenuous debates both with his fellow-men and with his God, and who brought out of these debates spiritual results of such significance for the individual and for the nation, cannot be without value for ourselves.

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