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upon their city and nation, for their gross sins, their dreadful abominations, and idolatrous departure from the living God, and through them also to warn us of our approaching danger, under similar circumstances. For what appened to them“ happened unto them for ensamples, (or types,) and they are written for our admonition, on whom the end of the world is come,” aş saith the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 11.
The first and second chapters of Ezekiel give us the vision which he first saw. The four living creatures, having the faces of a lion, man, ox and eagle, are the same as John saw, Revelations fourth and fifth chapters, and, as we are there taught, are those who are redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, including the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The lion represents the church in the apostles' age, when they went forth bold as lions, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world. The or represents the church in a state of subjection and persecution, under the Roman emperors Nero, Domitian, and others, when they were delivered unto the slaughter and were made slaves by the Roman power,
The face of a man denotes that state under which the church lived in the days of Constantine and his successors, when the kingdoms of the world, represented in prophecy by beasts, were more or less under the control of the church and her ambitious clergy, as beasts are under the rule of man; and when the church united with the state, and became haughty, imperious, and proud, like
The face of an eagle represents the church in the state when antichrist began to persecute and devour the true children of God, and her divine Mas. ter gave her two wings of an eagle, that she might fly unto the place in the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, to be nourished 1260 days, or time, times and a half: thus giving us the four principal features of the church as she has appeared to the world since her establishment on the earth. The wheels denote the government of God. The quter or outside wheel is his general government with the world, and the kingdoms thereof, in which the church now moves.
The inner wheel is the govern. ment of God over his church while in this state, under the control or power of the kingdoms of the world, and shows us that God has a people, a remnant, in the world, children of the kingdom, invisible perhaps to us, but known unto God from the creation, as all his works were; “ For we have this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." Yet they grow with the tares, and will grow with them, as our Savior said, until the harvest, or end of the world : when they, that is, his people, will he gathered from among all people, where they have been scattered during the dark and cloudy day of persecution, tribulation, and distress.
But God, rich in merry towards those who believe, has by the prophets and apostles opened the door of his future dealings, so that we can look into the tines yet to come, and discover some of that glory which his children will inherit at the revelation of Jesus Christ, to comfort and console those who believe, under their trials and afflictions, and to animate and excite those who are dilatory and negligent in his cause to more faithfulness and perseverance in the way.
Not only has our heavenly Father opened the doors of futurity to his children, but to those also who are yet in a state of nature, that they might believe. He has, hy his word, by the mouth of his prophets, and by Jesus Christ and the apostles, taught theil the awful destruction that awaits the finally impenitent. David says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell," Psalm ix. 17, and prays, "Let them go down quick into hell.” lv. 15. Isaiah, speaking of the wicked worshippers of Babylon, says, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell." Isaiah xiv. 15. Christ says, " Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. x. 28. Again, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matt. xxiii. 33.
In 2 Peter iii. 7: “ But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store,
reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.". And “these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Matt. xxv. 46. “And they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” Jobn v. 29. Surely God could not have talked more plainly; and, indeed, what lan., guage could have been used, so that wicked men would not have perverted and wrested it? They themselves cannot give us any language which would have expressed the idea to their satisfaction. Peter says,
“Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. Ye, therefore, brethren, seeing that ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” 2 Peter iii. 16, 17.
I have endeavored to show you some of the things which God has revealed to his servants the prophets in visions; and it now remains for me to show sonie of those excuses which the Jews made, to evade the force and truth of Ezekiel's prophecy.
II. I SHALL SHOW THAT PEOPLE AT THE PRESENT
DAY ARE MAKING THE SAME EXCUSES AND PLEAS AS THEN.
1. The Jews said “the vision was for many days to come.” You will readily see why they put off the vision for many days. It was that they might have more time to accomplish their own wicked purposes, to execute their own avaricious plans. They were engaged, in Ezekiel's days, in idolatry to an alarming degree. The people were embracing some of the most dangerous errors that ever crept into the Jewish church. It had become very fashionable to be prophets, or teachers. Whether this was because such persons received great salaries, or because their trade was called honorable, or because it was an easy life, and they were too indolent to get a living by labor, we may not be able exactly to tell. But some things we can tell : Ezekiel has recorded them. They are compared to foxes. Ezek. xiij. 4: “O Israel, thy prophets are like foxes in the deserts." They were
cunning, sly, and deceitful. They were too indolent to study the word of God, and bring out things new and old; therefore they prophesied out of their own hearts, or stole, perhaps, the writings of others, as the Lord accuses them in the 2d and 3d verses. In the 5th verse,
“ Ye have not gone up into the gap, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel." When trials came into the church and breaches were made in her walls, they fled and left the people of God in affliction, and did not, by their instruction, prepare them “ to stand in the battle, in the day of the Lord.” They preached or prophesied that which was not in the word of God. See chapter xiii. 6 to 8. They prophesied that which suited the carnal ear, always ready to cry peace, even where the Lord had not spoken peace. See verse 10. Read Ezekiel xiii. 19 to the end. They conspired together, like a roaring lion ravening for the prey. They devoured souls, and hunted for treasures and precious things; they caused many to mourn among the people of God. They violated the law of God, and polluted holy things, by making no difference between the clean and unclean. They shed blood and destroyed souls to get dishonest gain. They daubed with un. tempered mortar, and formed creeds and ceremonies which God had not commanded. They fed them. selves on the fat of the land, and clothed themselves with the finest wool; but the flock they did not feed. The diseased they did not strengthen, neither healed that which was sick. They bound not up the broken in heart, nor brought back the wandering. They sought not for those which were lost; but with force and cruelty they ruled over them. See Ezek. xxii. 25 to 29, and xxxiv. 1 to 6, inclusive.
The prophet Isaiah, in describing the same characters, says, “His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleepiag, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand. They all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter.” Isa. lvi. 10 and 11.
If any man, pretending to be a preacher of the gospel, at this day, should preach to us in as plain and forcible a manner as Ezekiel did to the prophets of his time, should we be apt to apply the word so preached to ourselves ? No. "Perhaps we should say,-he is prophesying of many days yet to come, or of times that are afar off.
2. The people in that day were guilty, as God by Ezekiel charges them, of setting up idols in their hearts, and putting the stumbling-block of their ini. quity before their face. See Ezekiel xiv. 3.
The idols which they set up in their hearts were these
very prophets which Ezekiel had before describe ed; for, instead of searching the word of God for their faith and practice, they set up their false prophets as their lawgivers, and their construction of the word as their best rule. These were their stum. bling-blocks which the children of Israel stumbled over into iniquity, and instead of going to God to inquire of him concerning their principles and duty, they go to these false prophets to inquire; and God says he will suffer them to be deluded, and prophet and people will be caught in a net together of their own making.
3. They had rebelled against the Lord, and were stiff-hearted; they kept not his statutes, and despised his judgments; they regarded not his commands, and kept not the holy Sabbath. . They changed the ordinances of his house, and committed whoredom by their communion with idols. They defiled the sanctuary of God, by admitting the profane and unclean within the sacred place. They set up altars in every high place, and did not humble themselves before God. They were proud and haughty of spirit, and regarded not the wants of the poor and needy. They had much respect for those of high birth, while the low and base-born were treated with total nego lect. For the proverb, “Because the fathers have