« ForrigeFortsæt »
indignation against the sins and insensibility of the people.
While brooding in solitude over his perplexities and disappointments, the prophet complains to Jehovah, “Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed ?" Is there to be no end of this work of rebuke which incessantly irritates my soul, and daily exposes me to censure ? · Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail ?” Wilt thou forsake me in my greatest need, as brooks that are dried up in the heat of summer; or mock my expectations, as the mirage of the desert deludes the thirsty traveller? This spirit of murmuring and distrust the Lord tells him must be laid aside, if he wishes to continue in his office. He must go on separating the "precious from the vile” in his ministrations, regardless of opposition and reproach. He must not soften down his message to make it more palatable to the people. Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them.” If he was faithful to his trust, the Lord assured him his opposers should do him no injury. “I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall; and. they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.”
To impress on the people a sense of impending danger, the prophet was forbidden, about this time,
to form those domestic ties which in ordinary periods the scriptures declare to be “honorable in all,” but which at this particular period were inexpedient. Parents and children would “die of grievous deaths ;” pestilence and famine would traverse the land, and the wretched inhabitants would lie unburied, a prey for the beasts of the field and for the fowls of heaven.
The prophet was forbidden to enter the house of mourning. Such would be the destruction throughout the country, that the dead would be abandoned by their friends, the usual funeral rites would be neglected, and the customary expressions of grief be withheld.
Nor must the prophet enter the house of feasting--as if joy and mirth were out of place in a land which had cast off the fear of Jehovah, and was about to be left to desolation.
Shocked at the impiety of the Jews, who had filled God's inheritance “ with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things,” and concerned for the divine honor, the prophet catches a glimpse of the heathen renouncing their hereditary idols, and bringing their oslerings to the temple of Jehovah. “O Lord, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit." Jehovah
will not be without an inheritance. If the Jews apostatize, the heathen will draw nigh unto Godif the natural branches of the olive-tree are cut off and cast away for their barrenness, the shoots of the wild olive will be graffed in and bear fruit abundantly.
JEREMIAH'S SORE TRIALS.
At this period the Jews had so long given themselves up to idolatry, that it had become the prevailing habit of the nation. It was worn into their affections and memory, as words are engraven on a tablet of metal with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond. : Not only had the fathers revolted from Jehovah, but the children were growing up a generation of idolaters, who would in later years " remember their altars and their groves near the green trees, and upon the highest hills.”. This must have made the prophet despair of success in any attempt to recover the people from apostasy. How could he expect those would listen to his teachings whose sensibilities had been deadened in childhood by the sottish rites of Baal ; or be awed by his threatenings, whose consciences were early hardened by the cruel worship of Moloch ? If the fathers, trained in the days of good king Josiah, when idolatry was publicly suppressed, had proved so stubborn and perverse, what opposition and contempt must the prophet anticipate in his future ministry among those who were bound to the service of idols by parental example, and the enduring attachments of dawning life? Before that
generation passes away the prediction against Judah shall be fulfilled: “I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from the heritage that I gave thee; for ye have kindled a fire in my anger which shall burn for ever.”
In the early part of his reign, Jehoiakim revolted from Nebuchadnezzar, relying on the aid of the Egyptians. The prophet disapproved of such an alliance. Probably in reference to it, he exclaims, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh." Such would be the result of confidence in Egypt, while the king was estranged from the God of Israel. “ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” A beautiful picture of the experience of the kings of Judah while reposing on the guardian care of Jehovah, and of the safety and blessedness of every one who trusteth in the Lord.
Many of the people, in the spirit of scoffers in "the last days," derided the predictions of the