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as the Lord hath spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets, but serve the king of Babylon and live ; for why should this city be laid waste ?”

E. And would not Zedeki ah listen then, mamma!

M. No, my love; he madly determined upon rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar; and he and his

people went on, at the same time, doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, follow ing all the abominable example of the heathen, and polluting the house of the Lord, which he had hallowed in Jerusalem ; and though the Lord God of their fathers continued to send to them by his messengers, rising up betimes and sending them, because he had compassion on his people and his dwelling-place; yet they mocked at the messengers of the Lord, and despised his words, and misused his prophets,“ until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, till there was no remedy.”

E. Did king Zedekiah use the prophet Jeremiah ill, mamma, for telling him the truth?

M. Yes, my love; the words which he had spoken to the king offended him very much ; especially when he saw that they were about to come to pass, which they did very soon after. The king of Babylon came up, as Jeremiah had said, and besieged the city of Jerusalem, and the king immediately shut up the prophet in prison, and afterwards, when he found that he could not be prevailed upon to alter his words at all, but that he went on continually persuading him to give up Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, he was persuaded by his people to be more and more cruel

to him, and at last to throw him into a deep dreadfil dungeon full of mire, into which he was let down by cords; and Jeremiah sunk in the mire. And many persons who were about the king tried to persuade him to put Jeremiah to death at once, but the Lord watched over his prophet, and raised him up a friend even in the king's palace.

E. Who was that, mamma?

M. An officer of the king's house, who had been brought from Ethiopia, whose name was Ebedmelech. This person, who was a stranger to the prophet, felt more pity for him than any of his own countrymen, and when he heard that he was cast into this loathsome dungeon, he went directly to the king and described to him the dreadful state of the place where they had thrown Jeremiah, and entreated him to have compassion upon him. Nor did he speak in vain. The Lord touched the heart of the king with some pity towards Jeremiah, so that he commanded that he might be drawn out of the dungeon; and although he kept him afterwards in prison all the time that the siege of Jerusalem lasted, yet he desired that bread might be given to him daily, notwithstanding that the city was at that time suffering a great deal from famine. More than two years did the siege of Jerusalem last; and Jeremiah, in the course of that time, was often sent for by the king to advise him what to do. The prophet all along gave him the same advice, telling him continually, “ Thus saith the Lord God, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; if thou wilt go forth unto the king of Babylon, then thy soul shall live and this city shall not be burned with fire, and thou shalt live and thine house;

obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord which I speak unto thee: so shall it be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live."

But all was in vain. Zedekiah" stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel :" and still persisted in defending Jerusalem against the armies of the king of Babylon. At length in the eleventh year of his reign, the city was broken up, that is, such openings were made in the walls by the enemy, that they were enabled to enter the city. Then the great Chaldean armies belonging to the proud king of Babylon poured into the city on every side, and all the princes of Chaldea came and sat down by the middle gate.

E. What did king Zedekiah think then, I wonder, of the prophet's words?

M. He would no doubt have given worlds at that moment that he had believed what Jeremiah had so often told; but it was too late now, and he fled by night from the city, and escaped into the plains of Jericho; but there the Chaldean army pursued him, and took him and brought him to the king of Babylon, who slew all his sons before him, and all the nobles of Judah, and then put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with fetters of brass.

Then began that dreadful havoc of Jerusalem, which her prophets from Moses to Jeremiah, had so often spoken of in such affecting language. This was the day which Jeremiah had but a short time before called " the day of Jacob's trouble," and which he spoke of as "a great day, so that none is like it," in which should be heard " a voice of trembling and fear, and all faces should be turned into paleness."

And well might it be so, for the Chaldeans slew their young men with the sword, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man or him that stooped for years, nor yet for the tender infant; all fell alike in that dreadful slaughter. And they burnt the king's house and the houses of the people, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem, and what was still more melancholy, that magnificent temple, which had been the glory and wonder of the world, that also perished in the flames. And the whole of the beautiful city of Jerusalem was burnt with fire, and left in a state of complete desolation ; and all the remainder of the people, all those who had not perished B.C. by the sword, were carried captives to Baby- 588. . lon.

E. And what became of the prophet Jeremiah, mamma? Was he carried captive to Babylon?

M. No; he was allowed to remain in Judea among the poor people who were still left in the land, for Nebuchadnezzar had most likely heard that the prophet had done all he could to persuade the king and people to submit to his power, and he therefore gave the most positive orders to the captain of his army, that no harm should be done to Jeremiah, but that he should be allowed either to go up to Babylon, or to remain in his own country, as he liked best. Here we see again how able and willing God is to protect his own servants, even in times of the most dreadful public calamities. All the rich and great and noble of the land had either perished by the sword or were taken prisoners; Jerusalem herself had fallen ; yet is Jeremiah safe. Nor was this the only proof given us at this time that the Lord careth for the righteous.


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