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for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine
weep sore and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive." As a patriot, Jeremiah could not, without grief, foresee the desolation of his country; but as a worshipper of Jehovah, he grieves still more
“ because the captives are the people of God.”
About this time a severe drought appears to have prevailed over the land. * Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish ; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters : they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the ploughmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.” The prophet represents the brute creation as sharing in the distress, and wasting away “because there was no grass.”
In the pressure of affliction, the people resorted to Jeremiah for help, rather than to their own gods. Harshly as they had treated the prophet, he addresses his prayer to Jehovah in their behalf: “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee. 0 the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest thou be as a man astonished, as a mighty man that cannot save ? Yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.”
In answer to his supplications, the Lord tells Jeremiah that the people were bent on wandering, and that “he will now remember their iniquity and punish their sin.” He had borne with them long, but they had gone backward with a perpetual backsliding. Now, when under the terrors of the drought they fast, he will not hear their cry; and when they offer sacrifice, he will not accept it; but will “consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence." And that the prophet might understand the day of forbearing with them was past, the command is given, “Pray not for this people for their good.”
Such a prohibition must have crushed his heart; but, vile as they were, he attempts an apology for their misconduct : "Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword,
neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.” Though this plea failed to procure a promise of relief for the thirsty land, Jeremiah, in the deepest affliction, owns the justice of the punishment, and casts himself and his country on the compassion of the God of Israel : We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us; for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory : remember, break not thy covenant with us.
Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain ? Art not thou he, O Lord, our God ? therefore will we wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.” Forbidden as he was to offer supplications for the people, he still prostrates himself before the mercy-seat, resolved that if he and they must perish, they would “perish only there."
To a mind constituted like Jeremiah's, nothing could be more grateful than retirement and quiet in so godless an age. To live in the midst of idolatry, where the mass of the people were regardless of the worship, word, and government of Jehovah, would "vex his righteous soul from day to day.” But to be constrained by conscience and his prophetic office to bear open, continual witness against the oppression of princes, the corruption of the priests, the deception of the false prophets, and the stupid folly of the common people, was more than he could well endure. A lover of peace, he would have been glad to disturb no one's quiet. Unambitious, he would never have sought notoriety by assailing prevalent opinions and customs. A true patriot, none would more warmly desire the independence and prosperity of his country, or shrink sooner from uttering a word derogatory to the character of its rulers. Himself a priest, and an unwavering believer in the divine origin of the rites and ceremonies of the national religion, none would be more reluctant to bring them into contempt by exhibiting the faults of those that served at the altar.
No wonder, then, that nature should sometimes give way under the opposition and enmities incurred by many long years of reproof and denunciation. No wonder that, weary of the incessant struggle, the prophet should cry out, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury, yet every one of them doth curse me.” Forbidden to take interest from their countrymen for money lent, the crime of usury was peculiarly odious to the Jews. But the prophet's fidelity had gained him a reputation among the people no more to be envied than that of the usurer. Nothing but maledictions greeted his ear wherever he went. They would call him a bigot for attacking idolatry,
a deserter of his order for stigmatizing the conduct of the priests, a traitor for denouncing ruin to his country, a restless disorganizer for decrying the government and reproaching the king.
Though the complaint of the prophet showed a mind discomposed by the natural result of his mission, the mercy of heaven bent to comfort and calm his desponding spirit. “ The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction.”
Tried and downcast by reproaches, the prophet turns to God for refuge. “O Lord, thou knowest.” Thou knowest what I suffer from my persecutors. Their malignity is not exercised against me without thy permission. Thou knowest how unjust are the bitter speeches of my opposers, and “that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.”
Smarting under calumnies, he recalls the pleasure which he felt and anticipated at the beginning of his ministry. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” But these bright anticipations were clouded by the messages of wrath which Jeremiah was constrained to utter. He could not mingle with the light-hearted in the cheerful scenes of social life, but “sat alone,” because the evils gathering around his country weighed down his spirit, and the prophetic impulse filled him with