The prophet Jeremiah has, by the command of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described in this book, not only by his sermons and prophecies, which he made unto the corrupt people of the Jews, during the time of more than forty years, with an holy zeal, special boldness and an exemplary constancy under the reign of Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, (otherwise also called Jeconiah, Coniah) and Zedekiah, but also several histories, which in the meanwhile came to pass, tending to the instruction of God’s church, and the confirmation of his prophecies. In his sermons he reproves and rebukes the Jews throughout very sharply and severely for their manifold gross sins and abominations, repugnant to the first and second table of God’s law, which daily prevailed and escalated exceedingly with great and small, in the ecclesiastical, political and civil state, with most earnest and persuasive exhortations unto true repentance. However as there was at present no appearance of repentance, but on the contrary all things grew from evil to worse, he threatens and foretells them all manner of grievous plagues from God, especially the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, of the temple, and of the entire land by the kings of Babel, as also very expressly the deportation of the people into the seventy years captivity in Babylon, with all manner of adhering miseries. As in a glass he very lively represents this unto them, as well for the convincing of the impenitent and obstinate, as for the instruction and admonition of the godly, not only by words of singular impression, but also by several divine signs, and testifies and seals it with his hearty pity, compassion, intercession with God, yea, with bitter weeping and lamenting (as seeing all things before his eyes) as afterward to his great grief of heart he had to experience and to behold it with his own eyes. On the other side, he comforts and strengthens the residue of the sad, penitent and believing souls with very plain and excellent prophecies; partly, concerning their deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, their return to their own land, and other future mercies of God, which he likewise represents unto them, with heavenly visions and signs; also concerning grievous judgments of God upon many, both near and remote pagan and hostile nations, that had plagued the people of God, especially upon that proud and tyrannical Babel, a type of the antichristian Babel in the New Testament; partly, and principally, he prophecies largely, most gloriously and sweetly, with prophecies of the spiritual deliverance by the MESSIAH, our Lord JESUS CHRIST, of Whose Person, soul-saving office, covenant of grace, preaching of the Gospel, universal church both of Jews and Gentiles, and the abundant blessings and happiness of that church, both militant and triumphant.
Concerning the histories, which the prophet relates furthermore in this book, they concern, partly his own person; as namely, what he had to suffer for his rebuking sermons and prophecies, from kings, princes, priests, false prophets and the common people, especially from his own countrymen of Anathoth; and that God did graciously strengthen him in his infirmity, wonderfully preserves him in dangers and cruel treatments, and at length deliver him out of prison by means of the Babylonians. And that afterwards, being come among the captives to be carried away to Babel, he was fetched out by the captain of the Babylonians, being treated friendly and kindly, and set at liberty. And that he went and adjoined himself to prince Gedaliah, whom the king of Babel made governor and ruler over the residue of the Jews that were left in Judah. This Gedaliah was afterwards treacherously murdered. He with Baruch was carried away by these rebellious Jews, who were left, into Egypt, and there associated among them to the very last with much grief, and prophesied unto them utter ruin and destruction, by reason of their desperate wickedness. About this some ancient writers observe that they also at last stoned him to death for a reward of his faithfulness. On the other hand, he records the actual fulfillment of his prophecies, as namely, the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the miserable condition which, during at that time, has been by God’s righteous judgment within Jerusalem, the capture of it, and the destruction of city, temple and land, the deportation of the imprisoned people in groups, the one before and the one afterwards, and what befell the residue of the Jews in Judah and in Egypt.
The prophet Jeremiah began to prophecy in the 13th year of king Josiah, (chapter 1 and 2), who was the grandchild of Manasseh, under whose reign some do write that the prophet Isaiah was sawn asunder, and that Amon having reigned alone between both, two years, so that Jeremiah soon followed the prophet Isaiah. How long Jeremiah prophesied after the destruction of Jerusalem among the Jews who were left in Judah and afterward in Egypt, this is very uncertain. It is to be noted that Jeremiah prophesied under the reign of Zedekiah at Jerusalem among the Jews who were in Judah, and Ezekiel prophesied in Babel among the Jews who were carried away captive with Jehoiakim, both of them prophesied the same thing, namely, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the land of Judah, at one and the same time, as they also both of them lived to see the accomplishments of their prophesies. See Ezekiel 4; 5; 9; 10; 24 and 33:21, etc.