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AT ST. CLEMENT-DANE'S CHURCH, FOR THE REFORMATION Society, TUESDAY EVENING,
MAY 31, 1831.
Ezekiel, ix. 4-6.—" And the Lord said unto me, Go through the midst of the cily,
through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others that followed he said in my hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite ; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women ; but come not near any man
upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.” In the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Babylon during the intervening period Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Ba- after Jehoiakim's captivity ; and while bylon, came against Judea with an Zedekiah was allowed to reign in army; he succeeded in overrunning Judah, the period was eleven years. the country, and in taking posses- The people, unconvinced by the warnsion of the royal city; he also took ing calamities which had befallen their the king prisoner, and carried him nation, unconvinced by the captivity of away with a number of his nobles their king, continued to provoke the and many of the people, and made Lord their God to anger. The prothem captives in the land of Baby- phet Jeremiah was not carried captive lon. The heart of the conqueror with Jehoiakim, but was left with them was restrained by the good hand of that remained, and continued to proGod from proceeding to extremes phecy in the court of Zedekiah. Zedewith the city ; he appointed the king's kiah would not hearken to him. Un. uncle, Zedekiah, to be king in Judah, humbled by the judgments of God, in the stead of Jehoiakim, and he left the nobles continued their luxury and Zedekiah reigning over the people oppression, the nation that was left with a semblance of Jewish royalty, continued their rebellion, their disno doubt under mere sufferance as far content, their insubordination, and as Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the priesthood continued their slothwas concerned, but under effectual pre-fulness, their disregard to the souls of servation and long suffering patience, the people. in the providence of the King of kings. Under these circumstances, in the
The prophet, Ezekiel, was carried fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiakim, away captive with Jehoiakim, and was the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel dwelling with the captives in the land of among the captives by the river of
Chebar; of this you will read in the in the visions of God to Jerusalem, first verse of the Arst chapter of his to the door of the inner gate that prophecy. “Now it came to pass, in looketh toward the north, where was the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, the seat of the image of jealousy, which in the fifth day of the month, as I was provoketh to jealousy." The prophet among the captives by the river of being thus brought in the Spirit to the Chebar, that the heavens were opened, city of Jerusalem, is presented with and I saw visions of God. In the four distinct visions of the provoking fifth day of the month, which was the wickedness of the people against God. fifth year of king Jehoiakim's captivity." These four visions are enumerated in The thirtieth year mentioned in the the eighth chapter, and then the defirst verse, appears to be the age of struction, which they had provoked, is the prophet; but the date of the pro- described in the ninth chapter, and phecy relatively with the circumstances the preservation of God's elect corewhich I have mentioned, was the fifth nant, elect according to his own eteryear of the captivity of king Jehoia- nal sovereign purpose, is marked in the kim. The chapter then goes on to midst of the destruction. detail one of the glorious appearings To these chapters now, my dear of the Lord to the prophet, and the brethren, allow me to direct your serilast verse tells us the effect produced ous and patient attention. I say paupon the prophet by that appearance. tient attention, for without patient A voice came to him out of the most examination of the word of God, all the excellent glory, and commissioned him appeals which you can listen to from to proclaim further and more final and this place, must be without any perdecisive calamities, on the rebellious manant or serious effect upon your nation, proclaiming destruction to the characters. Appeal without informacity, desolation to the lard, famine lion, without examination of the Scripand sword and dispersion to the people. tures, without exposition, to give sub
In order to make more precise the pro- stance for an appeal, is but the sound. voking acts of these further and deci- ing of a bow-string without an arrow in sive calamities, another vision was it; and that preaching, which deals in given to the prophet in the following appeal, first and last, without sound year. To that vision I now request and detailed exposition of the Scripyour attention, it is written in the tures, though it may excite at the eighth and ninth chapters. “ And it moment, it lodges no body of God's came to pass in the sixth year in the truth, and effects no real conversion sixth month, in the fifth day of the or reformation among God's people. month, as I sat in mine house, and Therefore, if you would have a bow the elders of Judah sat before me, that with an arrow, if you would have the the hand of the Lord God fell there shafts of God's truth levelled aright upon me.
Then I beheld, and, lo, a against the very vitals of corruption likeness as the appearance of fire, from and error, you must patiently examine the appearance of his loins, even down- God's word, you must exert attention ward fire ; and from his loins, even to the messengers of God, not lookupward, as the appearance of bright- ing for mere excitement, but looking ness, as the colour of amber. And he for instruction also. put forth the form of an hand, and
Now the first exhibition of the protook me
by a lock of mine head, and voking wickedness of the Jews which the spirit lifted me up between the was given to the prophet Ezekiel, is earth and the heaven, and brought me thus described—" there was the seat
of the image of jealousy which pro- , the house of Israel, and in the midst voketh to jealousy." “ And the Lord of them stood Jaazaniah, the son of said unto me, Son of man lift up thine Shaphan, with every man his censer eyes now the way toward the north. in his hand; and a thick cloud of inSo I lifted up mine eyes the way to- cense went up." Here was the great ward the north, and behold northward council of the nation. Jaazaniah, the at the gate of the altar this image of son of Shaphan, was a scribe of the jealousy in the entry.” It is supposed king's househould—he was not a Leto have been an image of Baal, but of vite—this was not the ecclesiastical whatever idol it may have been an council of the nation, but the civil image, we may see the justice of call-council of the nation, composed of the ing it an image of jealousy ; if we re- nobles, and ancient men of the city, collect that the Jewish nation is de- Jaanaziah, the king's scribe being the scribed as having been married to the leader of the party; and they were Lord, the Lord speaks of himself as exhibited as burning incense to having been the husband of that na
number of idols which were pourtion, and the Lord denounces the ido- | trayed on the walls. “He said then latries of that nation, under the names unto me, Son of man hast thou seen of spiritual adultery and fornication what the ancients of the house of against him. He warned them by Israel do in the dark, every man in Moses that they were to take heed, the chambers of his imagery, for they and not to follow after the idols of the say the Lord seeth us not, the Lord nations of the land of Canaan-for, hath forsaken the earth.” saith he, “ the Lord thy God is a Here was the secret of the national jealous God, his name is jealous.” | idolatry; they considered that the go. Here then is an image spoken of which vernment of the nation was left in was set up in Jerusalem, and even at themselves, that God took no care of it, the very entrance of the temple of that there was no connexion between God—“ the image of jealousy which religion and politics, that they should provoketh to jealousy."
govern the people in their own wisdom Upon this the Lord said to the pro- without reference to the revealed will phet, “ Son of man, seest thou what of God, that every man should look to they do, even the great abomination his religion himself, but no that the house of Israel committeth should consider it in a national point here, that I should go far off from my of view; this is what they said in sanctuary; but turn thee yet again, their wisdom-wisdom more consistent and thou shalt see greater abomina- in the disciples of Epicurus, than in tions. And he brought me to the those of Moses and the Prophetsdoor of the court; and when I looked, “the Lord hath forgotten the earth, behold a hole in the wall. Then, said the Lord seeth us not, and therefore he unto me, Son of man, dig now they were burning incense to their in the wall; and when I had digged idols. in the wall, behold a door. And he The next vision set before, the prosaid unto me, go in and behold the phet is thus described, “He brought wicked abominations that they do me to the door of the gate of the here. So I went in and saw, and be- Lord's house, which was toward the held every form of creeping things, north, and behold there sat women and abominable beasts, and all the weeping for Tammuz.” It was a heaidols of the house of Israel pourtrayed then ceremony in honour of an idol, on the wall round about. And there which the Greeks called Adonis ; it stood seventy men of the ancients of 'was attended with the most shocking,
the most inexpressible, and almost in- | Lord God said to the prophet after conceivable lasciviousness. The daugh- setting before him these visionsters of Judah had engaged in it and“ Hast thou seen this, O son of man ; brought it into their own land from is it a light thing to the house of Judah the abominations of heathenism ; and that they commit the abominations it is described, by the prophet, as being which they commit here, for they have carried on in the very gates of the filled the land with violence, and have temple of the Lord, as if the very returned to provoke me to anger, and daughters of the land, who professed lo, they put the branch to their nose?" godliness, were joining in those lasci- This is a proverb to express an action vious rites.
indicative of the most extreme con. The next vision described to the tempt; it is so translated in the Sepprophet is this : “And he brought me tuagint, where the figure is dropt, and into the inner court of the Lord's the literal meaning of the words is, house, and behold, at the door of the they are as those that mock. (GUTA *** temple of the Lord, between the porch puxtape fortes.) An evil action is an and the altar, were about five and evil thing, but a state of mind which twenty men with their backs toward can make a mockery of evil is worse. the temple of the Lord, and their faces • They have put the branch to their toward the east; and they worshipped nose"—they turn up their nose (as the sun toward the east." The sun is our English proverb has it) at the the most glorious image in nature assertion that they are evil, and deamong the works of God, and the spise with contempt all the declaratemple was the depositary of all reve- tions of God's messengers to them. lation, all the peculiarities of revealed This was the character of the peoreligion were connected with the ple of Israel. Then the determinatemple, every doctrine that was spe- tion of God to deal with them ac. cial in its connexion with the manifes-cordingly, follows. “ Therefore will tations which the Lord God of Israel I also deal in fury; mine eye shall not had made to his people stood connected spare, neither will I have pity, and with the temple service. The men though they cry in mine ears with a turning their backs and worshipping loud voice, yet will I not hear them." in the east towards the sun, therefore, There was a time when they might suggested to the prophet this character have been heard—there was a time of the nation's iniquity, that they were when if they had cried I would have forsaking the revelation of God, and heard. I spared them on purpose ; imagining, that they could devise a when I carried away Jehoiakim, Zedemore reasonable, a more proper, a kiah might have been established, but more scientific, a more philosophical now they have gone too far, and evil mode of worshipping God. They were and only evil shall come,“ though following the way of Cain, who they cry in mine ears with a loud thought that he could in a much more voice, yet will I not hear them.” philosophical and reasonable manner Then follows the description of the worship God by presenting the first execution of the judgments—" He fruits of the field, than by bringing the cried also in mine ears with a loud streaming blood of a slain victim in voice, saying, cause them that have obedience and faith to the revealed charge over the city to draw nigh, even -will of God.
every man with his destroying weapon These were the characteristics, then, in his hand. And behold, six men of Israel's iniquity; and hear what the came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and and Judah is exceeding great, and the every man a slaughter weapon in his land is full of blood and the city full hand; and one among them was of perverseness.” clothed in linen, with a writer's ink- These words were written in the horn by his side ; and they went in sixth year of the captivity of Jehoiakim, and stood beside the brazen altar. And or, which is the same thing, in the the glory of the God of Israel was sixth year of the reign of Zedekiah, gone up from the cherub, whereupon and five years afterwards the words of he was to the threshold of the house." Ezekiel were proved true; for, in the The glory of the God of Israel rested eleventh year of Zedekiah, Nebuchad. upon the cherub, he dwelt between nezzar, the king of Babylon, came up the cherubim, then behind the vail against Jerusalem, and broke down the where he was invisible to the people, walls of the city and the temple, and but on a mercy seat and visible to the carried away the vessels out of the high priest where he went in ; there Lord's house, and carried away the was his resting place for mercy, there king, and the nobles, and the people, he loved to dwell. But now, when and left the city a desolation, and he was going to perform his strange brought the people into his own land, work of judgment, he left his cherub and made them slaves to himself and and came forth to the threshold of the to his sons, until the time of the kinggate, where all the congregation might dom of the suns of Persia. see him. “And he called to the man Thus, my brethren, have I set before clothed with linen, which had the you the circumstances of the case as writer's inkhorn by his side ; and the they stood in the days of Ezekiel when Lord said unto him, go through the he wrote this prophecy. And now, are midst of the city, through the midst of we to derive any instruction from the Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the circumstances ? There are persons who foreheads of the men that sigh and cry tell us that the circumstances of the for all the abominations that be done Jewish nation are peculiar, that their in the midst thereof.” And that being religion was peculiar, that their theoaccomplished, “Then he said to the cracy was peculiar, that their governothers, go ye after him through the ment was peculiar, and that no lecity and smite, let not your eye spare, gitimate instruction can be derived neither have ye pity; slay utterly from their history for a Christian naold and young, both maids and little tion, because the kingdom of Christ is children and women.” This then was not of this world, and the circumthe commission. When the prophet stances of a Christian nation are altosaw it in execution he fell down on his gether different from those of the face before the Lord and cried, “Oh Jews, and that the application is alLORD God, wilt thou destroy all the together gratuitous, and all the deresidue of Israel ?" Though he had clamation of Christian teachers fall, faithfully predicted it in obedience to without any legitimate application, the commission he had received of upon the Christian character. There God, yet when the judgment came, are persons who say so.
It becomes the heart of affection that was within me, therefore, in making my applicahim was overwhelmed at the sight, tion of the circumstances, to prove that and he fell on his face and said, o it is legitimate, because all the force of LORD God wilt thou destroy them the application must be lost, if the all? But the Lord was not to be principle on which it is founded, be turned from his purpose thus : “He not demonstrated to your undersaid the iniquity of the house of Israel standings.