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prophet because their execution was delayed. "Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now." Jeremiah exhibited, on this occasion, a striking example of genuine patriotism. At the hazard of being regarded as threatening dangers which existed only in his own distempered brain, he called God to witness that he did not desire the coming of the "woful day." This would indeed prove the truth of his message; but he had rather bear odium, derision, persecution itself, than have his prophetic character and honesty established on the ruins of his country.

The prophet was now sent to the king and people with a gentler message. Another attempt

seems to have been made to win the nation to the service of Jehovah, by a promise of peace and prosperity. Jeremiah was directed to stand in the most public places of Jerusalem, and proclaim, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves and bear no burden on the Sabbath-day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath-day; neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath-day, as I commanded your fathers." If the princes and people would give heed to this message, the prophet was authorized to declare that the kingdom should flourish, the

city “remain for ever," and the nation, once more united in the worship of Jehovah, should retain its independence, and be governed by “kings and princes sitting on the throne of David.” But if they refused to hallow the Sabbath, the gates of Jerusalem and its palaces should be devoured by unquenchable fire.

It would be difficult to imagine how God could put higher honor on the Sabbath, than by this message of the prophet. The past sins of the nation should be forgotten, should be cast into the depths of the sea, and the kingdom, now on the brink of ruin, should regain its prosperity and power, if the king and people would rest on the day consecrated by God for his own service.

And we may see a reason for the promise. Not only is the observance of the fourth commandment essential to the keeping of all the others, but the very fact of hallowing the Sabbath in obedience to a divine command, is a most striking acknowledgment of the existence and government of God. Men may, to a good degree, respect and observe the Sabbath from other motives than its divine origin. They may think that rest, one day in seven, is expedient for promoting bodily health and vigor, for sustaining good order, for diffusing intelligence and refinement among the people. This is all very well; and if only for its physical, intellectual, and moral influences, every lover of his race ought to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy." But without a higher sanction, that is, unless conscience is armed with the authority of a divine command, one day in seven will never be uniformly and devoutly consecrated to the appropriate duties of holy time. If men would enjoy all the blessings the Sabbath confers, they must learn to keep it not only because of its temporal benefits, but because it was established by God, and thus observed, is an acknowledgment of the supremacy of his government.

Had Jehoiakim and his subjects obeyed the voice of the prophet, idol-gods and idol-altars would not long have profaned the streets of the holy city. Oppression, falsehood, licentiousness, would no more have called down the vengeance of heaven—the land would cease to mourn because of swearing,” and to be polluted with innocent blood. But promises and threatenings were alike unavailing. The prophet cast his seed upon a rock, and the field was barren still.

No nation that sacredly observes the Sabbath will be forgotten of God. Its people will be prosperous, its liberty secure, its government just and beneficent. And no nation that refuses to keep the Sabbath, and thus practically rejects his authority, will long escape the chastisements of his rod.

On one occasion Jeremiah was ordered to go down to the shop of a potter, who was forming a


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vessel from the pliant clay. As it was too much marred in the workman's hands to be fit for the use originally designed, he moulded it into another shape, and devoted it to a different purpose. This incident, in the mouth of the prophet, became a lively emblem of God's power over the destiny of nations, sparing the penitent, and crushing those that fail of the end for which they were distinguished by his favor. The moral cut the Jews to the heart. They formed devices against Jeremiah, saying, Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”

Jeremiah was now ordered to take an earthen bottle and go with witnesses to the valley of Hinnom, where men were accustomed to sacrifice young children to Moloch. After denouncing ruin to the nation, he broke the bottle, and returned to the temple, where he repeated his message. As the hardened clay when broken could not be restored to its shape, so the overthrow of the Jewish commonwealth by the Chaldeans would be complete.

Pashur the governor of the temple smote the prophet, and put him in the stocks, in a public place, where he was left through the night to suf. fer the pain and mortification of this disgraceful punishment; though some think that the prophet was only put in prison.

Tortured by an acute sense of the ignominy to which he had been subjected, in the bitterness of his soul, Jeremiah complains to the Lord for drawing him into a work which was attended with trials so severe and unremitting. “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived ; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed. I am in derision daily ; every one reproacheth me.” As if suffering beyond endurance, he resolves that he will speak no more in the name of the Lord. But soon the message which he forbears to deliver, becomes a fire in his bones. Neither conscience, nor the honor of God, nor compassion for his countrymen, nor indignation at their apostasy, will suffer him to be silent. Defamed by many, exposed to dangers on every side, his most unguarded intercourse watched by false friends to find him guilty of some misstep, he gathers courage from a returning sense of the divine presence. Now he is confident that confusion will cover his enemies. Now, in the triumph of victory, he exclaims, “Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the Lord; for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evil-doers."

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