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was the pressure remo
moved, than the liberated servants were again brought into bondage by their late masters !
Once more the intrepid Jeremiah was commissioned by the Moral Governor of the world, to tell the hypocritical king, that for this gross act of perjury and oppression, in refusing liberty to their brethren—“liberty was proclaimed to the sword, to the pestilence, and to famine;'—" that the king of Babylon should return, Zedekiah and his people be given into his hand, and their cities be burnt with fire, and remain without an inhabitant.”
Disheartened at length by the total insensibility of both king and people, and knowing that the evils he had been threatening for more than forty years, were now fast approaching, the prophet determined to abandon them to their fate, and provide for his own safety, by retiring to Anathoth, his native city. But always obnoxious to the resentment of the people by the faithful discharge of his duty, his quiet departure was now made the pretext for seizing him as a deserter to the Chaldeans, insulting him even with blows, and confining him in the house of one Jonathan, a scribe, which was at that time the common jail of Jerusalem.
CHARLES. What do you mean by a scribe?
Mrs. M. A scribe, in the commonwealth of Israel, was equivalent to a lawyer with us. They were the expounders of the law, and writers, as we see, in the instance of Ba. ruch, who wrote the prophecies from the dictation of Jeremiah.
Before the conclusion of this ninth year of Zedekiah, the appearance of a Chaldean army before the walls of Jerusalem convinced him of the wickedness and folly of wasting that time in the persecutiou of a prophet which
ought to have been employed in providing against an enemy whose perseverance and power he had already experienced. The city was rigorously besieged; provisions soon became scarce, and the terrified king, whom no argument could move, whilst he wickedly believed himself secure, had Jeremiah brought from the prison, to try whether he would yet soothe bis apprehensions, by prophecying “ smooth things."
Yet the divine oracle varied not. Zedekiah was to fall into the hands of the king of Babylon. But adversity, which is seen to soften the most obdurate, inclined him to listen to the entreaty of the prophet, not to remand him to he common jail of felons ; he was therefore confined in the guard-house of the court, and allowed a daily portion from the scanty stock of bread which yet remained to flatter their delusive hopes of resisting the mighty monarch with success. This favour, however, was withdrawn, when pestilence and famine spreading universal distress over the mourning streets of Jerusalem, he was again called upon for a word of hope and comfort from the Lord. No abatement or disguise of the unalterable decree being allowed por any alternative but to perish in the city, or to save their lives by going out, and surrendering themselves to the besiegers, the exasperated princes denounced their best friend, as one who weakened the hands of her defenders by his terrifying predictions, and an enemy to his country, and threw him into a deep and noisome dungeon ; where he must have perished inevitably, but for the compassion of one of the king's servants, who obtained for him the privilege of another transfer to his prison.
Whilst the holy city was in this miserable state, Ezekiel, in Babylon, declared the judgment of God against
the proud city of Tyre, for exulting in the calamities of his fallen people, not less than for their own luxury and pride, and foretold the same destruction to them, from the same unrelenting hand.
About this time, another triumph of Nebuchadnezzar was revealed to Ezekiel—the entire conquest and desolation of Egypt. Egypt, one of the most ancient and celebrated of nations; the cradle of learning, yet the nursery of superstition and idolatry, the most monstrous that ever humiliated the known world, or exhibited the weakness of the human intellect.
CATHERINE. Prophecy is a most curious and interesting subject: whenever you speak of a prediction, I wait with impatience to hear of its accomplishment.
Mrs. M. Prophecy is an unquestionable evidence of divine inspiration, but I speak to you as to those who have been taught to believe-though not without being able to give some reasons “ for the hope that is in you.” The satisfaction of perfecting your knowledge in this august branch of theology, is yet in reserve for you. At present, let us pursue the history of Israel, in which we must occasionally mingle such notices of the accomplishment of prophecies, as tend to illustrate the leading fact of the continual and visible interposition of providence, in the affairs of this most remarkable of all nations.
We left Zedekiah, the last descendant of David that ever wore a crown, in trembling apprehensions of his impending fate. Deaf to the entreaties of Jeremiah, to throw himself on the mercy of the conqueror, he persisted in defending Jerusalem, about a year from the beginning of the siege. Their provisious being then exhausted, and the enemy in possession of one gate of the city, the despairing king col
lected his family, and chief warriors, and attempted to escape towards Jordan by night, by a private way through his gardens. He was overtaken in the plains of Jericho, seized, and carried immediately to Riblah, where the king of Babylon then held his court.
His rebellion and perseverance had exasperated the tyrant, and his obstinate contempt of the prophet's graleft him nothing to hope.
His sons and his officers were slain in his
presence ; his own eyes afterwards being put out, he was sent to Babylon in chains, and ended his life in a prison; circumstantially fulfilling the prediction of Ezekiel, that he should die in Babylon, though he should not see the place ! (B. C. 588.)
The rage of the Chaldeans now fell on the holy city. The houses, the palaces, and walls, were either burned, or levelled with the earth. Nor did their magnificent temple obtain more consideration. The silver, the brass, and the gold, that had been lavished in decoration, with every thing valuable that could be found, was carried away, and the sacred edifice itself was left a heap of ruins !
But these barbarians, who did not venerate the temple of Jehovah, paid much respect to his prophet Jeremiah, whilst they were either slaying, or sending into captivity, the inhabitants of both town and country. Either mistaking his advice to the fallen king, as an intended service to their master, or subdued by the majesty of his inflexible virtue, they obeyed the command of the heathen monarch, to take him out of his prison-furnish him with necessaries, and leave him at liberty to choose his own dwelling. If he would go into Babylon, he was promised sustenance and protection--or if he chose to remain in his own country, he might select the place of his residence at will. His
country, though in ruins, being preferred, he was sent to Gedaliah, who had been appointed governor of the vanquished land, with a charge to make the venerable sage the object of his particular care,
Fanny. Of what use was a governer in a land stripped of its inhabitants ?
MRS. M. The fertile fields of the “ delightful land” were yet covered with grain : the famine, which contributed to the ruin of the rebellious city, was occasioned by the straightness of the siegemand not by the poverty of the country, although it had suffered by the ravages of a hostile army.
The vine and the olive tree yet yielded their fruit; and to gather these in their season, as many as were necessary, of the meanest of the people, from whom Nebuchadnezzar apprehended no ambitious projects, were suffered to remain under the government of Gedaliah, who generously assured them of protection. But ambition, it would seem, will never want a place to imagine her mischievous schemes. Whilst the late war had more or less agitated the whole country, many of its inhabitants, together with small bands of the broken army of Zedekiah, had Aled into the neighbouring states. Many of these, when they heard that the Chaldean troops had retired, and that a man of probity was appointed governor, returned to their homes, and promised allegiance to the king of Babylon. But, unfortunately for them, a prince of the royal blood, named Ishmael, who had taken refuge with the king of Ammon, a tributary likewise of Babylon, was en- couraged by that prince, to obtain the supremacy of Judah, by the murder of Gedaliah. With this design, he came with a number of the refuge officers, to visit the vice-roy, at Mizpah, where he had fixed his residence, affecting