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The Book of the PROPHET

JEREMIAH.*

CHAPTER 1.

Contains the prophet's general commission, and the promises of divine

assistance. THE words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests

1 that [were) in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, about 2 three miles from Jerusalem : To whom the word of the LORD

came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in

• As Mr. Orton has said nothing of Jeremiah, nor of the time in which he lived, I have taken the liberty to prefix Dr. Smith's introduction to this prophet. It seems to be a judi. cious abstract from Dr. Blayney's notes on Jeremiah

Jeremiah was a priest of the tribe of Benjamin, and called to the prophetic office when very young. He entered upon it about seventy years after the death of Isaiah, and exercised it for about forty two years, with great faithfulness and zeal, and in very unfavourable cir. cumstances. At the time that he began to prophesy, the sins of the Jews were come to their full measure. After a reformation had been in vain attempted by Josiah, to punish a nation, unworthy of such a sovereign, God called him early away. His two sons, who successively mounted the throne after him, were as remarkable for vice, as the father was for virtue. The first, (Shallum, or Jehoahaz) after a reign of three months, was carried captive to Egypt, where he died: his brother Jehoiakim, on condition of paying a large sum of money to the king of Egypt, was allowed to succeed him ; but the Babylonians, about three years after, having made a descent on Judea, and taken Jerusalem, he was obliged to swear fealry to the king of Babylon, who carried him with a number of captives, among whom were many of the childrer, of the first families, together with a great part of the sacred vessels of the temple. Jehoiakim however was left in possession of the throne, on condition of his paying a yearly tribute ; but refusing to fulfil his promise after the first three years, the king of Babylon sent some forces. joined by the Syrians and Ammonites, to commit depredations on his country. 'l his they did for several years, always carrying off spoils and captives. Jehoiakim, in at. tempting to repel one of their invasions, was slain without the gates of the city, and his body, after having been treated with much ignominy, was cast into the fields without the honours of a burial. His son seconiah, though very young, succeeded him; and in rebellion and vice followed his example. After a reign of only three months, Nebuchadnezzar, who had come to Judea in person, carried him, and almost all the people of any note in the country, captive to Babylon.' The golden vessels, that had remained in the temple, were likewise carried off at this time. Zedekiah, uncle to Jeconiah, was permitted to succeed him, on swearing alle. giance and becoming tributary to the king of Babylon : but, relying on the assistance of Egypt, he revolted soon after, and drew on hiinself and on his country the full vengeance of the Babylonian monarch, as related in the fifty second chapter. The subsequent transactions of the murder of Gedaliah (who was left governor in the country) and the retreat of the remaining Jews into Egypt, (whither they were accompanied by Jeremiah, who is said to have been there put to death) may be seen from chapter forty to forty four inclusively. Soon after the taking of Jerusalein, and the carrying of Judah into captivity, Nebuchadnezzar brought on the Tyrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Philistines, and other neighbouring nations, rhat destruction which the prophets of God foretold and threatened; he likewise ravagéd Egypt, and either killed or enslaved all the Jews who had fled tbither for refuge. Thus matters stood, till, at the precise period foretold by Isaiah and the other prophets, the Babylonian monarchy was overturned, and the Jews restored to their liberty and their country by Cyrus.

This short view of the history of Jeremiah's times, may in soine measure help us to understand his prophecies, of which the general subjects are, the idolatry and other sins of the Jews ; the judgients that were impending on that account together with their future restoration and deliverance, interspersed with several intimations of the Messiah. From this account, however, we must except the forty fifth chapter, which relates to his disciple Baruch, and the six following, which respect the fate of other nations.

The style of Jeremiah is beautiful and render to a high degree; especially when he has occasion to excite the softer passinns of grief and pity, which is not selilom the case in the first parts of the prophecy. It is likewise on many occasions very elegant and sublime, espec ially toward the end. (ch. xlv. li.) where this prophet approaches even to the myjesty of Isajah. The historical narratives which are occasionally introduced, are written in a plain prosaic style, which is the fittest for narrative'

The chapters are not now arranged according to the order of time in which they were delivered : but of this notice will be taken in the course of the exposition. VOL. V.

Nn

3 the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Je

hoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month, when the city and temple were destroyed ; so that he prophesied about

forty two years, and lived to see most of his prophecies fulfilled., 4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me in a vision, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, I had thee in my view, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified

thee, set thee apart for this office, [and] I ordained thee a prophet 6 unto the nations, to other nations as well as to the Jews.* Then

said I, Ah, Lord Gop ! behold, I cannot speak : for I (am) a

child ; I cannot speak with due gravity and authority before great 7 personages. But the LORD said unto me, Say not I (am) a

child : for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and what8 soever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their

faces when they look big and angry : for I (am) with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. A necessary encouragement, as I was to reprove the princes and priests for their faults, as well as the

people : and, to confirm me against my fears, he gave me a sign; 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and louched my mouth.

And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in

thy mouth ; I have given thee the gift of utterance, and instructed 10 thee in my will. See, I have this day set thee over the nations

and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant ; I have commissioned thee to foretell the destruction of some kingdoms, and the preservation and restoration of others.

Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou ? And I said, I see a rod of an almond 12 tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen, or

judged right : for I will hasten my word to perform it ; as an almond is one of the first trees that blossoms in the spring, and

hastens as it were to seize the first opportunity to blossom, so I will 13 hasten the accomplishment of thy predictions. And the word of

the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou ? And I said, I see a seething pot, a boiling pror, or furnace; and the face thereof [is] toward the north ; the mouth of the furnace, into which the fire was put, opened to the north ; or rather,

(as in the margin of our bibles from the face of the north, from 14 whence the evil was to come. Then the LORD said unto me, Out

of the north, that is, from the Babylonians and Chaldeans, an esil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land ; they shall

throw the city and country into all the agitation and confusion of a 15 boiling furnace. For, lo, I will call all the families of the king

. This was designed for his encouragement, and is exactly agreeable to the account St. Paul gives of himself, Gal. i. 15, 16.

+ The prophets are said to do what they declared God would do ; and as it was customa. ty with God to impress the pinds of the prophets and people by certain sigtis or emblems, 90 he does here.

doms of the north, saith the LORD ; the king of Babylon and his allies, a numerous army ; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates at Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the

cities of Judah ; they shall encamp against and take possession of 16 their cities and palaces. And I will utter my judgments, pass

sentence and execute judgment against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands ; my

judgments shall declare their wickedness, and my indignation con17 firm the truth of thy profihecies. Thou therefore gird up thy

loins, and arise, go about it vigorously and resolutely, and speak unto them all that I command thee : be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them ; lest I make thee ashamed

of thy cowardice, and bring upon thee that which thou fearest. 18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an

iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, I have viade thee like a city fortified with pillars of iron and walls of brass, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, who shall batter thee with their power, against the priests thereof; who will thunder their church censures against thee, and against

the people of the land, who will shoot out their arrows, even bilter 19 words. And they shall fight against thee ; but they shall not

prevail against thee ; for I (am) with thee, sailh the LORD, 10 deliver thee ; they shall not be able on the whole to hurt thee.

REFLECTIONS.

1. U T HOMSOEVER God commissions for any service, he

VV will qualify and help. He knows what use to make of every man ; sees what services they are fit for ; and if he calls them out to difficult work, they may expect, and, if they follow his providence, may depend upon, peculiar assistance. Though a modest diffidence is very becoming in all, especially in young persons, yet there is a salse modesty which ought to be avoided. This prevents many from praying in their families, or with their friends, and from speaking of divine things. But when God calls us out to difficult services, we must not make excuses, but cheerfully undertake them, in a dependence on that help of his Spirit which he has promised ; so that as our day is, our strength shall be.

2. We see that courage and zeal becomes the Lord's prophets. and ministers. They are to speak all that he commands; and not shun 1o declare the whole counsel of God. They are to reprove and admonish faithfully and tenderly; and this requires great resolution. If they shun their duty for fear of the reproach and contempt of men, God will make them contemptible. If they are faithful, he will bear them up, and make them honourable in the eyes of all that are wise and good.

3. The fear of man bringeth a snare. This was the prophet Jeremiah's infirinity, and it prevails upon many l neglect their duty;

and to comply with sinful, dangerous customs. The fear of being reproached or laughed at, leads many young persons in particular, into guilt, shame, and ruin. The best preservative against this snare is the fear of God ; a reverence of his authority, a sense of his presence, and a dread of being confounded and condemned by him. It is therefore excellent advice of our Lord, which we should always remember and act upon, Fear not them who can kill the body ; but fear him, who can kill the body and cast the soul into hell ; I say unto you, Fear him.

CHAP. II. 1-20.

We had the prophet's commission in the former chapter ; here he en

ters on his work ; and in this part of the chapter represents to the Jews their ingratitude to God, their unparalleled wickedness, and the dishonour and ruin they were bringing on themselves by il.

IMTOREOVER the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 I Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith

the LORD ; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land (that was) not sown ; I remember thy obedience and subjection, when thou west first formed into a people, and

entered into a covenant with God at mount Sinai, when thou follow3 edst the cloud, and attendedst the service of the tabernacle.* Israel

(was) holiness unto the LORD, [and] the first fruits of his increase ; like the first fruits, they are peculiarly valuable in his sight : all that devour him shall offend ; evil shall come upon

them, saith the LORD ; I will severely punish all thai shall attack 4, them. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and 5 all the families of the house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD,

What iniquity have your fathers found in me, what injustice, unfaithfulness, or unkindness, that they are gone far from me, and

have walked after vanity, and are become vain ? that they have 6 practised idolatry and are become like the heathen? Neither said

they, Where [is] the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, they forgat the kindness I showed to their fathers, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through

a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt? 7 where there was no thoroughfare, no dwelling? And I brought

you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and

made mine heritage an abomination by your sins, especially idol. 8 atry. And it is no wonder you did 80, for The priests said not,

Where [is] the LORD ? and they that handle the law knew me

* Or rather, according to Dr. Blayney, I have called to mind in thy behalf the kindness shown the: in by yourh, Úc.

not ; they took no pains to learn and fireach my will : the pastors also, the governors and magistrates, transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, in the name of Baal, and

walked after [things that] do noi profit ; that were extremely 9 huriful; this was the source of their degeneracy. Wherefore I

will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your chil

dren's children will I plead: I will lay before you your ingrati10 tude and sin, both by prophets and judgments : For pass over the

isles of Chittim, the politer nations of Europe, and see ; and send

unto Kedar, the barbarous nations that lay south east, and con11 sider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a na

tion changed (their) gods, which (are) yet no gods ? they keep to the religion of their forefathers, though it be false, nbsurd, and impious : but my people have changed their glory, their relarion

10 God, and his presence among them, for (that which] doth not 12 profit. Be astonished, 0 ye heavens, at this, and be horribly

afraid, be ve very desolate, saith the LORD ; it is such a thing,

that the sun might veil his face at the sight, and the lights of heur13 en shrink away and vanish from their places: For my people

have committed two evils ; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, (and) hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water ; by worshipping idols and forming alliances with idolatrous princes, they have acted as foolishly as a man would do who should forsake a pure running stream, for a lit. tle muddy water in a cistern, and that a broken cistern, out of

which the water, such as it was, would quickly run. 14 [IS] Israel a servant ? [is] he a homeborn (slave?] why is

he spoiled ? Why is Israel a slave to his enemies ? was he born

such a one ? No : but he is spoiled as if he were, and this is owing 15 to his sin. The young lions roared upon him, [and] yelled, and

they made his land waste : his cities are burned without inhab. 16 itant, by the tyrannical kings of the ncighbouring countries. Also

the children of Noph and Tahapanes, two principal cities of Egypt, have broken the crown of thy head ; the Egyptians have

devoured the best part of thy country, and sunk thee into contempt. 17 Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast for

saken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way? when

he was leading thee, and would have been thy help and insured thy 18 prosperity? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt,

to drink the waters of Sihor, or the Nile ? or what hast thou to

do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river Eu19 phrates, that is, to form alliances with Egypt and Assyria ? Thine

own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee : know therefore and see that (it is] an evil (thing) and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear (is) not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts ; thy sin shall be thy punishment ; the princes thou hast couried shall be a scourge to thee ; and thy calamities shall con. vince thee, what a fuolish, wicked part thou hast acted, in fursaking God.

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