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6 Then came the word of the Lord unto the prophet Jeremiah, 7 saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel ; Thus shall 'ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to inquire of
me ; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, 8 shall return to Egypt into their own land. . And the Chaldeans
shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and 9 burn it with fire. Thus saith the LORD ; Deceive not your.
selves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us : for 10 they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole
army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained (but] wounded men among them, (yet) should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire; God will find instruments to execute his purposes, and he can make the most
unlikely successful. 11 And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans
was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army, 12 Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land
of Benjamin, to Anathoth, where his eslale lay, to separate him. self thence in the midst of the people ; perceiving that he could
do no good in the city, he thought it best to retire with the people 13 who were going to look to their affairs in the country. And when
he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward (was) there, whose name (was) Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah the false prophet, whose death Jeremiah had foretold, and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans; thou art going to them in person, to encourage
them, because thou hast foretold their taking the city, and hast era 14 horted the king and people to submit. Then said Jeremiah, [It
is] false ; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened
not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the 15 princes, to the chief officers of state. Wherefore the princes
were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, that is, scourged him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe : for
they had made that the prison. 16 When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the
cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, till the siege 17 began again ; Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out :
and the king asked him secretly in his house, for fear of the princes, and said, Is there (any) word from the Lorg? And Jer
emiah said, There is : for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into 18 the hand of the king of Babylon. Moreover Jeremiah said
unto king Zedekiah, What have I offended against thee, or
against thy servants, or against this people, that ye have put 19 me in prison ? Where [are] now your prophets which prophesi
ed unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come
against you ; nor against this land ? you see the siege is renewed, 20 and the city in danger. Therefore hear now, I pray thee, O
my lord the king: let my supplication, I pray thee, be accepted before thee; that thou cause me not to return to the house of 21 Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.* Then Zedekiah the king
commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison, where he had more liberty and free air.
1. CEE how absurd it is for persons to desire the prayers of
D ministers, when they will not regard their exhortations. So Zedekiah did ; and this is too common a case in times of distress : men are then glad of the prayers of their friends and ministers, whom they before slighted ; they are desirous to receive consola. tion from those, from whom they never would receive advice. But there is little reason to hope for any success from such prayers ; and ministers have no consolation to administer to the disobedi. ent ; for: they must still say, as God says, There is no place to the wicked.
2. The delay and suspension of divine judgments, too often harden sinners in their evil ways. While the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, there were some signs of remorse among the people ; when they retired the Israelites grew bad again. This is often the case with sinners ; because sentence against an evil work is not speed. ily executed, when judgments are at a distance, they go on to do wickedly. When God afflicts them, they entertain some serious thoughts and good resolutions ; but when the affliction is gone, their goodness is gone too ; and they return to folly again. Thus they deceive themiselves. But the determination of God is pereinptory, that except men repent, they shall perish,
3. See the power of God over all creatures, v. 10. He is the supreme commander of all armies, and can do what he pleases with them. He is never at a loss for instruments; they may be weak and unlikely, but they shall execute his purposes. Whether we hope for nothing from them, or fear nothing from them, if God directs them they shall prosper. Without him, vain is the help of man : with him, sufficient is the power of the weakest. How much more reasonable then is it to fear him, than any human power ? The principal reflection is,
4. How wretched is the state of a sinner, who is always contending with his own conscience. There is something strangely unaccountable in the conduct of Zedekiah. He had seen the death of his brother, and the captivity of his nephew and sister, exactly answering the divine prediction by Jeremiah. He began his reign
• It was a remarkable instance of the prophet's courage and faithfulness, that he deliver. ed this message when he had a petition to present for himself, which would have been nore likely to have succeeded bad he delivered a more favourable one; especially to upbraid Zele. kish with his false prophets. When he spoke in God's naine, he was bold as a lion ; but when he petitioned for himself, nothing can be more modest, decent, and respectful than his teydest.
with these awful objects in view; he saw God's judgments on others, and felt them himself; yet he continued unhumbled. Sometimes he was under strong convictions ; then infatuated by his evil counsellors. Sometimes he desired Jeremiah's prayers ; then he consented to put him in prison ; then sent for him to know what the Lord said ; and yet rejected his commands. This is the case with many now: they show some reverence to God's ministers, and attend upon ordinances, yet continue unaffected and unsanctified : often uneasy in their own minds; sometimes full of alarms and fears; then settle in a false peace. The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest. If we desire to be easy and happy, let us reverence the word of God, hearken to the voice of his ministers ; and keep a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man.
In which is related Jeremiah's confinement in the dungeon ; Ebedme.
lech's success in getting it mitigated; and his counsel to the king.
THEN Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the
I son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken, or, had used to speak unto the people, and which he still
repeated privately in the court of the prison, unto all the people, 2 saying, Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city
shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence : but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live ; for he shall 3 have his life for a prey, and shall live. Thus saith the LORD,
This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Bab4 ylon's army, which shall take it. Therefore the princes said
unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death : for thus be weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them ; for this man seeketh not the welfare of this
people, but the hurt, by making the people despair of success. .5 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he [is] in your hand;
for the king [is] not (he that) can do (any) thing against you :
his hands are 80 weakened that he dares not oppose you, especially 6 at this critical time. Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him
into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, or, of the king, that (was) in the court of the prison : and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon (there was) no wa; ter, but mire : so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.*
7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs
which was in the king's house, one of his officers, who was a prosa elyte, heard that they had put Jeremial in the dungeon ; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin, where he heard causes; 8 Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the 9 king with great courage, saying, My lord the king, as the hand of
God is 80 awfully against us, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon ; and he is like to die for hunger in the place
where he is ; for (there is no more bread in the city, and we 10 are all in danger of dying by famine as well as he. Then the
king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee to assist, if any should oppose thee,
and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he 11 die. So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the
house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts, or clothes, and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah, that the cords might not
hurt him ; which they probably had done before, being let down 12 roughly. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah,
Put now [these] old cast clouts, and rotten rags under thine 13 arın holes, under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they
drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the
dungeon ; and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. 14 Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet
unto him into the third entry that [is] in the house of the LORD ; into a private room in the third gale between the king's house and
the temple : and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a 15 thing ; hide nothing from me. Then Jeremiah said unto Zede
kiah, If I declare [it] unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?
or, Wilt thou not put me to death, though I give thee such counsel as 16 thou wilt not like to hear. So Zedekiah the king sware secretly
unto Jeremiah, saying, [As] the LORD liveth, that inade us this soul, and on whose preservation thy life and mine defiend, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these
med that seek thy life; not promising to take his advice, but only 17 that he would not put him 10 death. Then said Jeremiah unto
Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, ibe God of Israel ; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, and treat with them, then thy soul shall live, and
this city shall not be burned with fire ; and thou shalt live, and 18 thine house : But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Bal.
ylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the
Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt 19 not escape out of their hand. And Zedekiah the king said unto
Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, those who according to thy directions have surrendorrd theme selves ; I ain terribly afraid, lost they deliver me into their hand, Vol. Vi
and they mock me. This was very unlikely, as they knew it to be the Lord's command that he should do so; or if they should mock
him, the dread of that was no sufficient reason for his disobedience. 20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver (thee :) Obey, I be
seech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee : so 21 it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live. But if thou
refuse to go forth, this [is] the word that the LORD hath showed 22 me : And, Behold, all the women that are left in the king of
Judah's house (shall be] brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those (women) shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee; even the women shall mock thee for thy folly and obstinacy, (which will be worse than if men should do it) when they see thee blind and captive ; and upbraid thee with thy folly in hearkening to evil counsellors, who prevailed with thee to thy ruin ; and they shall be the first to forsake thee and go to the Chaldeans : thy feet are sunk in the mire, thou art fallen into difficulties out of which thou knowest not how to escape,
[and] they are turned away back ; thy friends have forsaken 23 Thee and left thee destitute. So they shall bring out all thy v wives and thy children to the Chaldeans : and thou shalt not
escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon : and thou shalt cause this city to be burned
with fire. . 24 Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of 25 these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear
that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the
king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death ; 26 also what the king said unto thee : Then shalt thou say unto
them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would 27 not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there. Then
came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him : and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded; which no doubt was true, as he had asked this fuvour ; 80 that he told the truth, though not the whole truth,
which he was not obliged to do. So they left off speaking with 28 him ; for the matter was not perceived. So Jeremiah abode in
the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was laken : and he was (there) when Jerusalem was taken.
N E here see how the characters of good and useful men
may be misrepresented. Jeremiah is described as a person that was seeking the hurt of the city, while he was its best friend, and sought its good above any one else, as he would have brought them to God, to duty, and to happiness. The king had a kindness for him, but was so base and cowardly that he would not publicly avow it. It is no marvel if the best men are still repre