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over multitudes held in bondage. That the interesting picture of human nature may be in every point complete, the assemblage of good and evil blended in the same bofom : and even the grievous tranfgreffions, fources of bitter remorse, into which patriarchs and prophets and apostles were occasionally betrayed; are painted with unfailing impartial ity and precision. Man is taught to know what he is, that he may the more easily and the more willingly learn what he ought to become.
The portion of facred history which I am about to propose to your view unfolds a scene of disobedience characterised not by sudden error and unforeseen timidity, but by bold and hypocritical premeditation. When Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had entirely subdued the Jews, whom God, on account of their obstinate impiety, had at length delivered into his hand; he destroyed Jerusa:lem by fire, and carried away captive into a diftant quarter of his dominions the principal part of the nation. A considerable number however of the poorest class of the people he permitted to continue in their native land. He distributed among them fields and vineyards : and appointed Gedaliah, one of their
own countrymen, to be their governor. Ia a short time Gedaliah was treacherously killed by Ishmael, a Jew of the royal blood, who appears to have envied his pre-eminence, and at the instigation of the Ammonites had formed a conspiracy against him: and together with him were flain the Chaldean soldiers, whom Nebuchadnezzar had left under his command. Ilhirael was speedily overcome, and driven into banishment by the surviving friends of Gedaliah. But all the inhabitants of Judea trembled at the prospect of the indignation, which they foresaw would be kindled in the breast of the king of Babylon when he should receive ridings of the murder of his governor and his soldiers. They purposed therefore to fly for refuge into Egypt. But they deemed it becoming in the first instance to apply for directions from God. They requested the prophet Jeremiah to consult the Lord whether they should depart into Egypt, or not : and folemnly declared, that with inplicit deference they would obey the answer which should be returned to them. All the captains of the forces, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest came near, and said unto Jeremiah the prophet: Pray for us unto the Lord thy God, that the Lord thy God may few us
the way wherein we may walk, and the thing ibat we may do. The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even 'according' to all things, for which the Lord thy God mall fend thee to us. Whether it be good or whether it be evil, we will obey the võice of the Lord our God to whom we find thee: that it may, bet well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God. After 'an interval of ten days, the word of the Lord came in reply, by the mouth of Jeremiah, to the people. God commanded them to remain in Judea': and promised, on condition of their obedience 'to his mandate, that he would be with them, that he would save them from the king of Babylon; and would cause thein to dwell in fecurity and peace. But the all-knowing Searcher of hearts clearly discerned, that their application . to him for direction, and their deliberate en-' gagement that they would be entirely guided by his counsel, were pretence and mockery. He saw that they had decidedly purposed from the beginning, and, notwithstanding his prohibition, were still resolutely determined, to remove into Egypt. Jeremiah therefore proceeded, according to the orders of the Almighty, to denounce that if they persisted in their design, they should be overtaken by the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar in that very land Vol. I. N
of Egypt, where they supposed that they should be completely beyond its reach : that they should perish there by famine, by pestilence, and by the sword; that their name should become a reproach, an astonishment, and a curse; and that not even a single individual should again behold the land of Judea, or escape from the evil which God would bring upon them.
Let me endeavour, under the blessing of divine grace, to elucidate and to apply to your edification, the instruction which may be derived from this narrative.
I. Consider, in the first place, what was that great and general duty, against which the Jews, on the occasion now before us, rebelled.
Te dissembled, said Jeremiah, in your hearts. The first duty of religion is to surrender the heart to God. Without that surrender there can be no religion. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart. This is the great commandment to the Jew and to the Chriftian. To the observance of this commandment the promises of divine favo ever been annexed. If thou return unto the Lord, faith Mofes, with all thine heart ; the
6 : O Lord
Lord will have compaffion upon thee (a). re
(a) Deut. xxx. 1-3. (6) Jerem. xxix. 13.