“Princes and Nobles of Judah! We rejoice together under the happy reign of a king who looks at those things with calm disdain, and smiles at the foolishness and darkness of other ages. Let us, therefore, banish gloom and enjoy life. Let deluded visionaries bow their heads, disfigure their countenances, and utter their plaintive moans; but let men stand erect, with joyful countenances and merry hearts! They tell us that Jerusalem is in danger; and they dwell with solemn emphasis on what they please to call ‘forgetfulness of God.’ They tell us that the Chaldeans are about to besiege the city, and take it! This old story will answer well to terrify shallow brains and young children; but, with men of sense, it will receive that silent contempt which it deserves. Let the citizens of Judah give themselves no uneasiness on account of the silly harangues of a wild and deluded fanatic who is a more fit subject to be confined with unruly lunatics than to be heeded as a teller of future events. However, I would not advise severity towards the followers of old Jeremiah. They are rather to be pitied than blamed. As long as they keep their delusion within their own circles, we shall let them alone; but let them be careful that they step not too far and disturb the happiness and enjoyment of others. Among themselves, let them talk about the ’Law of their God,’ to their hearts’ content; but as for us, we know of no higher law than the law of our king—the edicts of our grand sovereign. To him, and him alone, we pledge our undivided fidelity. Trusting in the King of Judah, we cheerfully go forward, and bid defiance to every foe. In conclusion, I have only to say, Long live Jehoiakim on the throne of Judah!”
“Long live Jehoiakim!” echoed throughout the assembly. The king bowed and smiled, and Sherakim the Orator’s countenance gave evidence that he considered his efforts as crowned with success. All was again hilarity and mirth. The wine passed freely around. Shouts of laughter rang through the spacious hall. A strange person entered the apartment, at that end opposite to the spot where the king sat on his golden throne. His singular appearance arrested the attention of all present. The stranger had passed the meridian of life. His figure was tall, his countenance striking. Deep solemnity rested on his visage, which presented a very strange contrast to the countenances that surrounded him. With a slow but firm step, he walked through the long passage and stood in the presence of Jehoiakim.
The vast assembly was soon hushed to silence, and spellbound from curiosity. Sherakim the Orator gazed on the king. The king, with an angry brow, gazed on the stranger. The stranger, in return, cast a withering glance on the king, and stood in his presence with form erect and fearless. He lifted his hand on high, and thus addressed the monarch: