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[is] good; for his mercy (endureth] for ever : [and] of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD: there shall be common and religious joy in their families and in their temple ; all which was fulfilled in

Ezra's time. 12 Thus saith the Lord of hosts Again in this place, which is

desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities

thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing (their) flocks 13 to lie down. In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the

vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth [them,] saith the LORD ; who counteth them, as they go in or

come out of the fold. Then follows a firophecy of Christ, and the 14 continuance of the gospel. Behold, the days come, saith the

LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have prom

ised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of

righteousness to grow up unto David ; and he shall execute 16 judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall

Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely : and this is the name] wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness; the church shall be called by the name of Christ, as it is the seat of his residence, as the righteousness of its members is de

rived from him, and they are dedicated to him. 17 For thus saith the LORD ; David shall never want a man to 18 sit upon the throne of the house of Israel ; Neither shall the

priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually;

Christ shall reign as a king, and be a priest for ever. 19 And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, 20 Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day,

and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day 21 and night in their season ; [Then) may also my covenant be - broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to

reign upon his throne ; and with the Levites the priests, my

ministers; that is, God will always have those who shall foreach, 22 profess and adorn the gospel. As the host of heaven cannot be

numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured : so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, the spiritual seed, the people

of Christ, and the Levites that minister unto me. 23 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, referring

to their enemies deriding, or to the Jerus despairing,) saying, The - two families which the LORD hath chosen, Israel and Judah, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people,

that they should be no mere a nation before them; as if they 25 were never like to be a nation again. Thus saith the LCRD; If

my covenant [bc] not with day and night, (and if] I have not

appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, day and night, 26 summer and winter ; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob,

and David my servant, (so] that I will not take (any) of his seed (to be] rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob : for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them : the christian church shall never cease to the end of the world.

REFLECTIONS.

1. THE visits of God to his people are sufficient to make any

1 place and circumstance comfortable, v. 2, 3. God came to Jeremiah with very gracions promises. He had before complained bitterly indeed of his grievous messages, when he had peace and liberty ; here he hath comfortable ones, while confined. God can thus visit his people, and often does, when confined and afflicted ; and makes their secret chambers delightful. None of their enemies can debar them from his visits. If we desire his gracious presence with us in seasons of trouble, we must earnestly pray for it, v. 3, and then we may hope that as our tribulations abound, our consolations in Christ will much more abound.

2. We here see the happy effects of divine discoveries and favours, v. 6. Thus God mercifully deals with diseased souis ; reveals to them those important doctrines which are truth, and imparts that peace, which Christ has procured for them by his sufferings and grace ; he heals their spiritual maladies, and restores their comfort and cheerfulness. Let us study the truth as it is in Jesus ; receive it with meekness and love ; labour to be in a state of peace with God; and preserve our minds in a state of serenity. This will be the best antidote against the evils of life, and the surest foundation of true pleasure and lively hope.

3. Let us bless God for these promises ; rejoice that they have hitherto been fulfilled ; and depend upon the further accomplishment of them. We have seen the gospel spread to this day, amidst persecutions, enemies, and corruptions; we have seen a succession of christian ministers, amidst all their discouragements; and are, as christians, the seed of David, that is, of Christ the son of David. Still is God maintaining his cause ; stirring up the spirit of some to devote themselves to the service of the sanctuary, and raising up in our families a seed to serve him. This, if we are christians indeed, we cannot but behold with pleasure and thankfulness : and as surely as day and night, summer and winter, continue to succeed each other, so surely shall this be the case with the church to the end of the world. Let us rejoice in our relation to that church, whose name is The Lord our righteousness; consulting its interests to the utmost of our power, and endeavouring to be a name, a praise, and an honour to the Lord, who hath purchased us 10 himself with his own blood.

CHAP. XXXIV.

While Jerusalem was besieged, the Egyptians came to help Zedekiah,

and the Chaldeans drew off to fight the Egyptians ; during this time the events related in this chapter happened.

THE word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD,

1 when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the

people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities 2 thereof, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel ; Go

and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith

the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king 3 of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire : And thou shalt not

escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand ; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king

of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, in a 4 stern angry manner, and thou shalt go to Babylon. Yet hear the

word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah ; Thus saith the 5 LORD of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword : (But] thou

shalt die in peace : and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn Todours] for thee ; and they will lament thee, [saying,] Ah lord ! for I have pronounced the word, saith the LORD ; thou

shall die a natural death, and receive the usual marks of respect 6 which are paid to kings at their decease. Then Jeremiah the

prophet spake all these words unto Zedekiah king of Judah in 7 Jerusalem, ( for which he was imprisoned, chap. xxxii.) When

the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah : for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.

[This is] the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which [were] at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them, when he thought judgments were coming he began a refor. mation according to the law in Exodus xxi. 2 ; That every man should let his man servant, and every man his maid servant, [being] an Hebrew or an Hebrewess, go free ; that none should

serve himself of them, (to wit,) of a Jew his brother, though sold 10 either to pay their debts, or by the judges for their crimes. Now

when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his man servant, and every one his maid servant, go free, that none should serve

themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let (them) 11 go. But afterward they turned, and caused the servants and

the handmaids whom they had let go free, to return, and brought them into subjection for servants and for handmaids ; when the

dege was raised for a while, they laid hold of them, and brought them into bondage again ; which was worse than if they had never

let them go free. 12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the 13 LORD, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel ; I made

a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them

forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, 14 saying, At the end of seven years, or within the term of seven

years, let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee ; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee : but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear. This law, and that concern.

ing the subbatical year, have been neglected for several ages. 15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in

proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour ; and ye had

made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my 16 name : But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every

man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he hath set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into

subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids. 17 Therefore thus saith the LORD ; Ye have not hearkened unto

me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour : behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine ; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the tarth. A remarkable contrast ! Ye have not given liberty to your brethren and neighbours, therefore I will give the sword, the pes. tilence, and the famine, full commission and liberty to attack you

without control; and ye shall be slaves among strangers and 18 enemies. And I will give the men that have transgressed my

covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant

which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, 19 and passed between the parts thereof, The princes of Judah and

the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all

the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the 20 calf ;* I will even give them into the hand of their enemies,

and into the hand of them that seek their life : and their dead

bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the 21 beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah king of Judah and his prin

ces, will I give into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand

of them that seek their life, and into the hand of the king of 22 Babylon's army, which are gone up from you. Behold, I will

command, saith the LORD, and cause them to return to this city ; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire : and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.

Here is an allusion to their manner of making covenants; they killed a calf, and before it was laid on the altar, the covenanting parties walkeid between the parts of it, and so made a kind of imprecation, that God would so cut them asunder if they broke the covenant: this was a common custom among the heathen, and as old as Abraham's time, Sc. Gen. xv. 17.

REFLECTIONS.

1. n BSERVE a remarkable instance of the goodness and

v severity of God, in the case of Zedekiah. He was not one of the worst of their kings ; but by his disobedience to God, and treachery to the king of Babylon, to whom he swore allegiance, he was dethroned, carried captive, and had his eyes put out. Yet he lived in honour at Babylon, died in peace, and was buried with royal pomp. Thus judgment and mercy were mingled together : God punished his disobedience and falsehood ; yet showed him some favour on account of his freedom from some of the vices of his predecessors. God will not suffer disobedience and treachery to go unpunished ; nor any degree of virtue and obedience to go unrewarded.

2. It may be useful to bind ourselves by solemn engagements to our duty. Thus the Jews did, when they were informed what the law of God was concerning the release of their servants. The covenant was solemnly made and ratified in the house and presence of God ; and attended with imprecations of his wrath if they brake it. It may be serviceable to us to bind ourselves by solemn vows to what is our duty; and often to remind ourselves of them, and of the authority, omniscience, and power of God; and thus to keep up a due apprehension of his wrath in case of disobedience ; and all is little enough to fix our unsteady minds, and keep them firm to his commands. But we learn also,

3. That if we break our vows to God, he will sererely punish it. What could be more vile and infamous than the conduct of this people to their servants ! It was not only an injury to them, but a high affront to God, and a contempt of his law. They, as it is here said, polluted his name, and brought a reproach upon his religion ; and therefore he gave them over to all kind of calamities. This is too often the case with the vows men make in the time of sickness and trouble ; they promise, and perhaps begin to reform ; but when the trouble is over, their good resolutions are gone ; they repent of their repentance, and become as bad, yea worse than before. But be not deceived, God is not mocked ; dissembled repentance, and par. tial reformation, are highly provoking to him ; and therefore only adding deceit and treachery to other sins. In this case God will repent of the good he intended us, and make our punishment more remarkable and dreadful. When thou hast vowed a vow, defer not to pay ii.

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