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These early chapters also let us into the secret 'HE decline and fall of the Jewish monarchy,

of the prophet's own soul. The weeping proinevitable from the time of Manasseh's evil phet,” he has been popularly called ; and the reign, was partially arrested by the great

description may stand for at least one side of his religious revival under his grandson Josiah. For

character. His spirit was tender, sensitive, soon a while, the devout were filled with joyous hopeful

discouraged. How touching the conflict at the ness. The Book of the Law, probably Deuteronomy,

outset between his consciousness of the divine call, brought from its long concealment, was solemnly

and the deep sense of his own inadequacy! “Ah,

Lord Jehovah ! behold, I cannot speak, for I am a recognised as the ancient charter of the people. Idolatry was suppressed with a high hand, the

child.” Yet, when the occasion came, he never Temple restoration was zealously carried


“ Behold,” said Jehovah, “I have made festivals were celebrated ; and the youthful king,

thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, with earnestness and delight, assumed his part as

and brazen walls." The contrast is psychologically

true. the earthly head of the Theocracy.

Some of the gentlest spirits have been As a coadjutor in these reforms, he had the among the boldest in the conflict for truth and priest-prophet Jeremiah, of Anathoth, a village

principle. The man who cried, “Oh that my about four miles north-east of Jerusalem. One head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of Hilkiah, otherwise unknown, was the prophet's

tears," could stand before princes, and rebuke father, and must not be confounded with the high

with authority, unashamed. Sometimes, indeed, priest Hilkiah of Jerusalem, the counsellor and his denunciations are terrible. It is the meekest helper of the king

spirit, when aroused, that most signally kindles The prophet's name is not mentioned in the into righteous wrath. From a literary point of history, until the record of Josiah's death ; but a

view, this “weeping prophet” has nothing mawkish comparison of dates makes it sufficiently evident

in his style. He abounds in lyric passion ; certain that the reformation was aided by the vigorous

psalms attributed to him by modern critics may and impassioned appeals of the youthful seer.

well have been his. In the gifts of the orator, he For Jeremiah began to prophesy in the thirteenth

stands pre-eminent. Some of his similes, in their year of the king's reign; and it was in the exquisite beauty, are familiar to every reader. eighteenth year that the restoration of the Temple,

His pathos, unsurpassed, is never unmanly. In the cliinax of the series of reforms, was actively

his autobiographical details, there is a fine simbegun. Much light is thrown


the inner plicity. In a word, he has well been called “the history of the five intervening years by the second

most intere ting of all the prophets.” and four following chapters of Jeremiah. While It is humiliating to note that such a ministry, Josiah and his attendants traversed the land, together with the peremptory measures of the passing beyond the limits of Judah to the old king, were in a great measure ineffectual. A dominion of Israel, “ Manasseh and Ephraim

revival of religion does not always carry with it a and Simeon, even unto Naphtali," the prophet was

lasting moral reformation ; and there is too much bidden to look “ toward the north and say Return,

reason to fear that the eager suppression of idolatry thou backsliding Israel ; " the voice of doom

in its outward forms, with the restoration of the being heard “from Dan,” and “from the hills

ancient ritual, left the heart of the nation unof Ephraim.” But still it was to “ Judah and the

changed. The seventh and following chapters of cities of Jerusalem," that the most tender and

Jeremiah, to the end of the twelfth, most probably solemn of his appeals were addressed. The heart

belong to the period in Josiah's reign that followed and conscience of the people, as well as their

the reformation, and were perhaps retouched in apprehensions of impending judgment, could not

the light of later events. Eighteen years, as we fail to be aroused; and there can be no doubt that know, intervened between the purification of the the great revival was in great measure the result Temple and the death of the king; and the subof Jeremiah's thrilling messages from God.

stance of many discourses delivered during this

period is compressed into these six chapters. 1 The father of Jeremiah is simply described as of

Reading between the lines, we learn much as to the priests that were in Anathoth ;” a high priest would

the limitations of Josiab's reform. To take but a have been indicated with greater distinction. Moreover, the high priest Hilkiah was of the line of Eleazar;

single illustration from the seventh chapter. Anathoth seems to have been occupied by the descendants

Proud of their restored Temple, the people were of Ithamar : see 1 Kings ii. 26.

one day flocking in at its gates.

There the

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prophet took his stand, and solemnly called the worshippers to reflection :“ Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel ; Amend your ways and your doings, And I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying The Temple of Jehovah, the Temple of Jehovah, The Temple of Jehovah, are these ! For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; If ye throughly execute judgment between a man and

his neighbour, If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the

And shed not innocent blood in this place,
Neither walk after other gods to your own hurt;
Then will I cause you to dwell in this place,
In the land that I gave to your fathers,
From of old even for evermore."

It was the old lesson, reiterated by prophet after prophet: Righteousness before ritual. Neglect this, and the relapse into idolatry is certain. Jeremiah is very bold : and like most true prophets, in his outspokenness exposes himself to misconstruction. “Add your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh.” Yes: the holocaust is vain, snatch it from the altar and make a meal of it, if

“For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices : but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people: and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.” A strong saying, in the face of Leviticus ! Accordingly there are critics in our time who quote this passage, with what we cannot but think a perverse, unimaginative literalism, as denying absolutely that Moses instituted sacrifice in the wilderness, the inference being that the “ Priestly Legislation " was of a far later date. More reasonably may we understand the prophet to affirm that even the ritual ordained at Sinai was nothing in comparison with the spirit of obedience. The institutions of Leviticus were given, not for their own sake, but for the sake of a higher law. Josiah's great reforms had but slightly” healed the hurt of Jehovah's people; and amid the enthusiasm of the re-instated worship the cry of “ Peace! Peace !” was raised, when there was no peace.”


Connected with the prophet's warnings and appeals, are already premonitions of judgment about to befal the nation at the hand of heathen invaders. At the very beginning of Jeremiah's

. ministry, the vision of a boiling cauldron had appeared to him-seething elements in wild confusion-from “the North," the clouds of smoke and steam being wafted over the Land of Promise. And now again, in a changed figure :A Lion is gone up from the thicket,

And a Destroyer of nations: He is on his way; he is gone forth from his place,

To make thy land desolate.”

The invading people is further described as, “a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say. Their quiver is an open sepulchre ; they are all mighty men,” and again : “A people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth. They lay hold on bow and spear ; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea, and they ride upon horses, every one set in array, as a man to the battle against thee.”

These and similar descriptions have been thought to apply to the Chaldæans; and certainly in the language of prophecy "the north” generally denotes Mesopotamia ; but in Josiah's time there was little threatening from that quarter. Assyria was still the dominant power, although so far crippled as to have ceased to be a menace to the Holy Land. Other expositors have accordingly understood by these northern hosts the Scythians, who, as we know from Herodotus (i. 106), were now sweeping down in their hordes upon Egypt, and must necessarily have caused much consternation and mischief in their course. To what extent they ravaged Palestine is unknown; but the prophet strikingly depicts the terrors of the approach of such an army, while his contemporary Zephaniah in corresponding language tells of

A day of wrath; A day of trouble and distress; A day of wasteness and desolation; A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness; A day of the trumpet and alarm, Against the fenced cities, and against the high battle

ments.” If, however, the language of Jeremiah refers to the Scythian invasion in the days of Josiah, the prophet's language was evidently retouched in the subsequent publication of his discourses, so as to apply to the later and still more terrible attack of the Chaldæans; certain particulars, as the possession of “chariots” (iv. 13) which the Scythians did not employ in warfare, being added. History records that the Scythian forces were bought off by the Egyptian king Psammetichus, so that the effect of the invasion passed away with the immediate terror and pillage: “although in subsequent centuries, the name of the city Scythopolis on the right bank of the middle Jordan, lying on the great military and commercial road from Nineveh to Egypt, perpetuated the remembrance of the former occupation of the country.”ı

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THE DEATH OF Josiah. What moral effect was produced by all these terrors and disasters, we cannot know. For a sudden and terrible catastrophe changed the whole course of events. The King, on whose allegiance to Jehovah so much depended, in an ill-advised moment attempted to check the advance of the Egyptian monarch Necoh, son of Psammetichus, against Assyria, in the great duel that was to decide the supremacy in Western Asia.

· Ewald : “ History of Israel," Book iv., section 3 B.



Josiah fell, at the age of thirty-nine ; and it was Jeremiah who gave utterance to the national grief in bis “ lamentations,” not, it is hardly needful to remark--the Book so-called, but a collection of odes, in those days so familiar as to have become a proverbial expression for deep and universal

“ the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddon." Yet, in view of the greater calamities afterwards to befall the state, it was Jeremiah who said : “ Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that goeth away ; for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.”

This last allusion is to the expatriation of the young prince, Shallum or Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father Josiah on the throne, but occupied it for only three months, falling then into the hands of Necoh, and being carried to Egypt. Henceforth we hear no more of Jehoahaz, nor are any prophecies of Jeremiah assigned to his short reign. His elder brother, Eliakim, was placed on the throne as vassal of Egypt, his name being changed to Jehoiakim (“ Jehovah shall establish "), as if more emphatically to mark the connection of the Jewish state with Jehovah, regarded by Pharaoh as its tutelary god. The chequered reign of Jehoiakim marks a new period in the prophet's activity. Many of Jeremiah's more emphatic deliverances are dated in successive periods of the reign, mingled with autobiographical notes of surpassing interest.

That he had the ear of the people is abundantly evident. Yet, like other prophets, he had no honour in his own country. Already had the men of Anathoth sought his life: the priestly spirit dominant in that little town being impatient of all reform. In this respect, as in others, there are striking parallels between the career of Jeremiah and of Him who was preeminently the Man of Sorrows. Even the words which describe the prophet's troubles are a foreshadowing of the Christ. I am "like a gentle lamb," he says, “ that is brought to the slaughter." ”

". The cry of his bigoted foes was, “ Let us cut him off from the land of the living.” But there the similitude ceases. “Let me see Thy vengeance upon them,” the outraged prophet cries to God ; receiving in reply the oracle, “I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.” Often, as already remarked, a gentle nature, roused to wrath, gives vent to an indignation far more bitter than that of a spirit more equable and self-restrained. The silence and the love of the suffering Redeemer were to be a new revelation to the world !

queen-mother Nehushta, and cannot therefore have been earlier than towards the close of Jehoiakim's reign. Its lesson, however, is in no way connected with its chronology. The prophet's girdle, the closest of body-garments, laid away by the Euphrates, and becoming rotten, is taken as an emblem of the close alliance of the people with Jehovah, soon to be turned, beside the rivers of Babylon, into a miserable relic of what had been. It was

a sign to the Jewish community; and hence many expositors have supposed that the journeys, of some five hundred miles each way, were really undertaken, first to carry the girdle to the banks of the great river, then to bring it back spoiled and useless, and so to found upon it his impressive sermon. Others, remarking somewhat prosaically that there is no “rock” in the alluvial plain of the Euphrates, in the "hole" of which the girdle could be hidden, have suggested another locality of similar-sounding name (Prath) in Palestine-perhaps Ephratah, or Bethlehem. But for this there is really no authority, and unless the whole were a dream-parable, related by the prophet to the people, we must needs think of the two journeys as literal. The route to Mesopotamia, although long and tedious, was welltrodden and protected, so that there was insuperable difficulty. It is impossible, however, to decide the question; and either way the lesson of the homely emblem is unaffected.

A great famine of unknown date gives occasion to an appeal to Jehovah of almost unequalled impressiveness, with the terrible response of Infinite Justice. The prophet's heart is well-nigh broken, while he is again consoled by Infinite Love. But his isolation grows complete. Not for him can be the endearments of wife or children (xvi.) ; there is no place for him in the house of feasting ; his life is to be a stern and lonely testimony regarding the people's sin and its penalties. The gloom is unrelieved, save by the distant prospect of repentance and restoration. These shall surely be, but not yet ; for the present, all is mourning and lamentation and woe. So the prophet passes from scene to scene, one day standing in the gates of the city and denouncing the Sabbath-profanation which was one symptom of the national apostasy, at another time descending to the potter's field in the clayey valley beneath the hills of Jerusalem, and drawing those lessons from the workman's craft which an apostle was to hereafter repeat with such solemn emphasis ; and on yet another occasion repairing to the Vale of Hinnom itself-scene of many a cruel heathen rite - and making his voice of denunciation ring through Tophet ; while the dashing of an earthen jar into fragments expressively symbolised the impending ruin. On this last occasion it was that the young priest, Pashhur, head-guardian of the temple, laid violent hands on the prophet, subjected him to the bastinado, and threw him into the stocks, where he lay in misery throughout the night. Released in the morning, Jeremiah, unsubdued, denounces his malignant persecutor : “ Jehovah hath not called thy name Pashhur, but Magor-missabib "“ Terror on every side.” The phrase was an expressive watchword. It had already occurred in


A cluster of prophetic addresses, and of unconnected, undated incidents, occupying the Book from the thirteenth to the twentieth chapters, must apparently be place1 in order of time subsequently to the death of Josiah. They are however by no means consecutive. Thus, the earliest of them, the singular narrative of the prophet's two journeys to the Euphrates, connects itself with the fortunes of the prince Jeconiah and his

the sixth chapter, and is found again in the fortysixth and forty-ninth ; as well as in the Psalter.

But despondency supervenes. Like Job in the first agony of his despair, Jeremiah cries :“Cursed be the day wherein I was born; Let not the day wherein my mother bare me be

blessed : Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, Saying, 'A man child is born unto thee;

Making him very glad.”


THE PROPHET's Self-ReveLATION. Nothing could more vividly describe than the above-quoted passage this consternation and perplexity of a fallen state. The prophet's heart is sad. He is ready to arraign Eternal Providence : “O Jehovah, Thou hast deceived me, and I was

deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed : I am become a laughing-stock all the day:

Every one mocketh me. For as often as I speak, I cry out; I cry, Violence and Spoil! Because the word of Jehovah is made a reproach to me, And a derision all the day.”

Yet, speak he must, at all risks. “If I say, I will not make mention of Elim, Nor speak any more in His name, Then there is in mine heart as it were a burning fire

shut up in my bones, And I am weary of forbearing, And I cannotEmotion is almost too strong for utterance. " For I have heard the defaming of many:

Magor-missabib!For a moment, faith prevails : Sing unto Jehovah, praise ye Jehovah, For He hath delivered the soul of the needy from the

hand of evil-doers.”

Such self-revelations of the prophet's soul are alike pathetic and instructive. They show how the “burden of the Lord ” will sometimes press upon a devout and sensitive spirit, with a weight almost intolerable. Yet, when once the Divine call has reached that spirit's depths, it becomes impossible to refrain from testimony. There is in the prophet's cry a far-off anticipation of familiar and heroic words : “We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God, in them that are being saved, and in them that are perishing; to the one a savour from death unto death, to the other a savour from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” Yet, “Necessity is laid upon me; woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel.” “I can do no other, God help me, Amen!”

The reigns of Jehoiakim and of Zedekiah, cuk minating in the fall of Jerusalem, still afford abundant material for the prophet's biography. His outward life is more fully detailed than heretofore ; his ministry and sufferings are vividly set forth, but he is comparatively silent, after the abore outburst, as to the deeper exercises of his soul

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for. Why couldn't he keep to his own branch, and not -?"

“Ah, then, Parson, don't be fretting at all. I have a schame for a bonnet that'll

cure that woman of vanity and vain-glory. Eight and sixpence is the price of it, and if I'd another seven shillings you'd see me in the pew as regular as your Reverence would prescribe.”


WAS sorry not to see you in church last
Sunday, Paddy”

No, then, your Reverence, I was not there, for I had no way of coming. The boots was broke on me entirely.”

Ah, never mind the boots. We can see boots in the shop-windows. It was yourself we wanted to see.

But where at all were you, Mary?”
Well, then, Parson, not to tell your

Reverence a lie, the shawl was put away ; but, please God, I'll have it released agin next Sunday.”

“Ah, Mary, it isn't cold, and it isn't the shawl that needs to have its sins forgiven.”

“ That's thrue enough, your Reverence. Still an’ all, you'd have a right to be dacent in the House of God. Sure, I wouldn't need to be telling your Reverence what's proper, and the Widow Daly-faith, Parson, you saw the appear. ance she made with the kid gloves on to her, and the illigant monkey muff, and all to that. I wouldn't have the likes of her passing remarks upon me.”

“ Well, that monkey has a good deal to answer

One cannot help respecting that feeling; there is so much proper pride in it. One cannot help despising it; there is so much improper pride in it.

There, however, for good and evil, the feeling is. In the back pews of many churches—where, in spite of free seats and hearty invitations to come forward, the poor still hang together--a vacant place can very commonly be interpreted as a cloak or a coat in pawn.

In many parts of Ireland, even to-day, boots are classed by the Roman Catholic population among the decorative superfluities of society--being put on, at the stile nearest to the chapel, for state,

and then removed again for convenience and economy.


the Protestant poorand “ Protestant poverty” is a well-known phrase indicating proud and reticent indigence-boots are continually released on Saturday night and re-consigned to durance on Monday morning. The royalty, so to speak, paid for the use once a week of a strong pair of lace-ups must amount in the course of its protracted life to many times its original cost.

A poor Irish Protestant ranks among the proudest of mankind. He will suffer to the very verge of starvation before he "parts” the decent coat. (By-the-way, that slovenly omission of the preposition occasionally produces rather a sanguinary effect. An Englishman would be apt to hear not without horror that a lady had, for a trifling offence, “parted her page-boy.") When, however, , direst extremity has forced a poor man to that bitter sacrifice of the church-going coat, no persuasion will avail to bring him to church. To all argument, “I hadn't my clothes,” is an unanswerable answer.

There is, one may remark, a well-defined grade of destitution that comes out at night, but never affronts the unreticent day. “The clothes would just do me after dark,” is a very common saying. I have quite a little group of human bats flitting in that twilight. Some will struggle back to sunshine. Others, alas, will sink into night and total eclipse.

To the labouring man none grudges the Sab. batical collar; nor—though this applies only to one who is greatly fallen—the garment in one whole, with a w, instead of in a series without ; the aesthetic refinement of a pocket-handkerchief. And, suffer as one may from the tropical blends in the costume of “herself,” as the wife is distinctively called, one would gladly submit to another hue in the prism rather than rob her of her rich, if anxious, joy in wearing “ those unusual strings ” :-to apply to Mrs. Moriarty's bonnet Poe's criticism of the harp of Israfel. As a rule, poor thing, she has to stay with the pot and the cradle in the morning, and cannot "take" the sunshine with her beauty. The evening is her time.

Unreservedly should I rejoice in the “ Missis's ” fine feathers, if, like Jenny Wren, when these were not procurable, she would dress in her brown frock and come to church all the same.

But, as has been already said and shown, this she will not do. The standard of propriety in Sunday clothes thins the back seats of Irish churches more than infidelity-of that there is next to none among the humbler classes- more than drink, more than indifference, more than the terrible temptation to “sleep it out” one day in the week. In our Home Missions the clothing fund is a vastly important factor. must, in very many cases, get at a man's back before one can hope to reach his heart.

Moving on a little from this special difficulty, I must confess that I sometimes look upon Sunday Best from a broad and general standpoint, with a questioning, if not with an inauspicious eye. Is the Sunday

“ habit” a good or a bad habit ?

Certainly it is good for toiling folk to embody in a Sunday suit some of their ideals.

Pip's dear good Joe (of Great E.cpectations) in his leather apron, with the sleeves rolled up over his glorious arms, was a magnificent man--a truly “ harmonious blacksmith,” and on Sunday, in his decorous black, he was gaucherie personified-a human misfit. But that “full suit of Sunday penitentials” designed by Mr. Trabb (small town tailors are better to-day : their cut is not quite the unkindest. cut of all) expressed a great deal which was well worth saying, and which dear Joe could never have said. It embodied his selfrespect, his respect for all respectable men, things and institutions ; it embodied an ideal, cuticular purity not capable of realisation in a workaday world, where one must try on horses' shoes and be half a salamander; it suggested a refinement to be reverenced, if never to be reached ; it represented every kindly, neighbourly, hospitable feeling ; it witnessed his hope of a better rest remaining, and of a clothing on with robes of immortality. I feel all this very strongly, and in one of the shorter poems in my « Cracked Fiddle," I think I have caught better than I could ever catch in prose the sentiment of the working-man's Sunday. “Oh, rare--when you wake with a start and shock,

And half uprise,

The sleep in your eyes,
And feel for the matches to see the clock,
The thought, “Why it's Suuday! not to-day!
I can wait for the light this once in a way.
No whistle this morning, harsh and short,
With a threat of fines in its rasping snort!
And so in the pillows to burrow deep
For two more exquisite hours of sleep.'


And rare, too, after a week of dirt,

The ooze of oil,

And the sweat of toil, To stretch your hand for your spotless shirt; To button a collar round your throat, And gloat on the nap of a glossy coat; To saunter here and dally there In the smokeless, leisurely Sunday air, And to drink your tea —three cups to-dayIn a spacious, gracious, epicure way.

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“And rare to gather the gloves and books,

And summou a mite

To left and right, With a glance of pride at your wife's good looks. To sit in the pew—no more a “hand,' But a soul that can listen and understand; To feel that the smoke rolls off the blue, And a Father's Face looks smiling thro', While a voice on the heart falls kind and blest, Come, and behold I will give you rest.'”


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And very much of what it is to the working man Sunday Best is to society at large. It is a Symbol-a visible creed. Consciously, or unconsciously, he who puts it on says, Non omnis moriar." I can believe that very often it is the last tie that binds to the Christian life, and that

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