JEREMIAH was one of the most distinguished prophets mentioned in the Sacred Records. He lived some 600 years before Christ. His native place was Anathoth, a small town situated not far from Jerusalem, and belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. He was of the tribe of Levi, and of the family of the priests.

At an early age he was called to be a prophet; and in the reign of the good king Josiah, he began to prophesy. In him, the youthful and pious king must have found not only a congenial friend, but a strong helper in his work of ridding the land of its idolatries, and establishing the down-trodden worship of the true God. We may imagine the grief of the prophet at the sudden and untimely death of his beloved king, the sole prop and pillar of God's cause in the land. There is a great fullness of meaning in the simple words of the record, " And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah." Josephus says, "And Jeremiah the prophet composed an elegy to lament Josiah, which is extant to this time also." Not tenderer nor more touching are the words of David for Jonathan, than must have been the lament of the prophet for his friend.

It was doubtless a source of much grief to Jeremiah to see the sons of Josiah forsaking the God of their fathers, and, with the people, turning again to the abominations, which had been cast out of the land. The prophet did not, however, leave the people unwarned in regard to the consequences of their wicked course. He told them that unless they repented, the king of Babylon would come and destroy their city, and take them away captives; but he seemed to them as one that mocked, and they heeded him not. He suffered terrible persecutions at the hands of these wicked kings; and even when his prophecies were fulfilling before their eyes, they refused to listen to his advice. Jehoiakim burned the roll of the prophet, to show his utter contempt of the prophecies written therein. 

Zedekiah, yielding to the clamors of the people, allowed him to be cast into a loathsome pit, where he sank to the neck in the mire; and here he would have perished, had it not been for the kindness of the Ethiopian who appealed to the king in his behalf. Jeremiah was then drawn up from that horrible place, although he was still kept in prison. But for all this ill usage, he did not cease to declare unto his people the word of the Lord.

When Nebuchadnezzar finally destroyed Jerusalem, and carried away most of the people, he gave commandment that Jeremiah should be kindly treated; and Josephus says that he had his choice between going to Babylon in honor, or remaining in Judea. He chose the latter, going with the remnant of his people to Mizpah, whence they fled from Jerusalem. There he continued to warn and instruct the people, telling them that if they obeyed the word of the Lord and remained in Judea, they should be protected. But in spite of all the prophet could say against it, they persisted in going to Egypt, carrying him with them. They came to Taphanhes; and there Jeremiah dwelt with them, faithfully advising and reproving them until the end. We have no certain knowledge of the fate of this remarkable prophet; but tradition says that his countrymen, offended by his plain testimony, finally put him to death.

There is probably not on record another such example of faithfulness, devotion, and patience under continued persecution, as that of Jeremiah. He is sometimes called the "weeping prophet," and he certainly had reason to weep. 

For more than forty years he steadfastly maintained the cause of truth and of God among his rebellious people. Though naturally mild, sensitive, and retiring, he shrank from no danger when duty called; threats could not silence him, nor ill usage alienate him. Tenderly devoted to his countrymen, he shared with them the woes, which he could not induce them to avert. 

E. B.