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eaten sour grapes, the children's teeth are set on edge,” had been much used in Israel at that day.
4. They had got to themselves itching ears, being more pleased with the musical voice of their teachers than with the truth. They looked more for an orator than they did for a true prophet. Eze. xxxiii. 30 -32. Yes. The Lord says to Ezekiel, “ The chil. dren of thy people still are talking against thee, by the walls and in the doors of their houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth of the Lord; and they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not. These are some of the abominations of the children of Israel, and for these things Ezekiel was sent to them, and was commanded to denounce sore and heavy judgments upon them, to wit, pestilence, famine, war, and captivity. And what was the effect Why, all the effect it had was to make them say, " The vision he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.” They dare not deny the vision itself, for this would have been too barefaced, or perhaps Ezekiel had given them too much evidence of his being a true prophet. Yet they could avoid the conclusion, the evil consequences, as they vainly thought, or could excuse themselves from repenting then, for he prophesied of times that are afar off, say they; and perhaps some of them might have fixed on 2428 years afterward for these judgments to be poured out upon the world, which would bring it down to the very day in which we live. I shall now show,
III, THAT THE PROPHECY OF EZEKIEL APPLIES TO US IN THIS DAY AS WELL AS TO THE Jews.
Men in all ages of the world are, and have been
The natural man among the Jews was governed by the same selfish, worldly, unholy prin. ciples, as the natural man among the Gentiles. And the spiritual man among them was led by the same Spirit, governed by the same principle of love to God and love for his fellows, as you, my brethren, if you are what you profess to be. Therefore, there can be no reason shown why God will not deal with us as with them, under similar circumstances. For the scripture is of no private interpretation, but is given as a rule for all.
The same promises that were given to believing Abraham, are also given to a believer now; only we live nearer the consummation of the promise than our father Abraham did. It is the same river of life, on the banks of which we live, that issued, ankle deep, from the garden of Eden, in the days of our first parents ; only we can swim in it. It is the same gospel that was given to Adam in the promise of the seed of the woman,
as we enjoy in the revelation of Jesus Christ our Savior; only we live in a more brilliant display of that gospel. And the same law which Adam our head broke, we his children have broken, though under more aggravating circumstances. The same curse denounced against Adam for sin, has been poured upon us to this day; only in a greater degree, because we sin against greater light. Then, can there be a reasonable argument produced, why the woes denounced against Israel may not, eventually, be poured upon us, for like ossences ? No. God is the same, his justice is the same, his mercy, his long-suffering is the same; therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed.
And one thing more-men make the same excuses, the same pleas, now as in the days of Ezekiel. Teli them of the judgments of God being poured out upon those that are hirelings in the church, those who feed themselves and not the flock; those who come in with sheep's clothing but inwardly, are ravening wolves; those who preach smooth things, and cry peace, peace, when there is no peace; those who
change the ordinances of God's house and teach the doctrine of men; those who build up creeds and plase ter them over with man's wisdom and reasoning, and when you refer them to Ezekiel for proof, what will be their answer? The vision which he saw was fulfilled many days past, and the time that he prophesied of is far back.
The only difference between our excuse and that of the Jews, is—they cast the blame and judgments forward many days, upon us; and we throw it many days back, upon them. And thus we put off the evil day a great while yet to come, or place it on our fathers' shoulders a great way back. There is a sect calling themselves believers in the word of God, that originated in the garden of Eden, and have been laboring to convince men that there will be no judge ment day. They tell you it was past a long while ago, and therefore they cry peace; but let one of their fellow-creatures owe them a trifling sum, say one hundred pence, if you please, and if he is unable or unwilling to pay, they are as fond of a day of judgment as other men. They claim that which they deny to God, the right to judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath appointed, even Jesus Christ.
Again; if we show that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world, and refer to the prophets as proof; if by the most simple and plain testimony we point out the time when that day will take place, what will be the common reply? I ask not for the answer of infidels, but of those who pretend to believe in the word of God. They will tell you " that the vision which the prophet saw is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off."
Again. Tell men that they ought to repent and believe in God to the saving of their souls, and they will retort that there is time enough yet, there are many days to come; and so they will put far off the day of repentance. Tell them death may cut them off in an unexpected moment, and then it will be too late to make preparation; and, like the Jews, they will answer you that death “is for many days to come,” and “the time is far off.”
But proposé to men any worldly advantage, any gratification of their carnal desires, and they
are all anxiety to obtain it; nothing will prevent their pursuing the object with indefatigable industry. Rain or snow, cold or wet, naked or clothed, they press towards their object; they will go without sleep or refreshment to obtain this or that gratification.
But present to them eternal riches laid up in hea. ven for the willing and obedient, and call on them to perform any of the duties God requires of them, and they are ready with a host of excuses. Ask them to go to the sanctuary. It looks like rain. Ask them to go to the prayer meeting. They have no time. Ask them to come to the conference room. It is too dark. Invite them to an assembly of saints. They have no clothes fit to wear.
Tell them of a crucified Savior, they are so dull. Speak of the great supper which he has provided for them, and they have no appetite. Ask them if they know he is coming soon to receive them to himself.
We have paid no attention to that subject. Ask them if they expect to enter into his rest? We hope to. What is the ground of your hope, my dear friend ? If you love him not now, how can you expect to love him hereafter ? If you can sacrifice nothing in this life, how can you expect to receive the benefits of that sacrifice which cost the Son of God a life of poverty, deprivation, and distress? which cost him groans and tears and blood in the garden? which cost him mockings, tauntings, and scourging in Pilate's judgment hall ? which cost him sweat, and blood, and death on the cross? Think, my brethren, Oh! think of the pas. sion of Christ; and if that will not move you to a more active and diligent life in his cause, then you may safely conclude you have no lot nor part in that glorious hope which he hath laid up for all those who love his appearing.
1. We are taught by our-subject that man is naturally prone to put far off the evil day, especially death and the judgment day.
2. We learn that those who make excuses, to exonerate themselves from their duties to God, ought to inquire if the same excuses prevent them from the active duties of the world.
3. We may conclude, that as the righteous judge ments of God, threatened upon the Jews, were literally accomplished; so will they, and in an unexpected hour, overtake us.
4. We learn, my brother professors, that if our love is not as strong for Christ as for the world, we are wolves in sheep's clothing, and ought to be alarmed for our future state.