« 이전계속 »
prevailing wickedness. They were precious in the sight of Heaven, and God directed a mark to be put upon them, so that they might be recognised and saved amid the general destruction. The relation of these things, given in the ninth chapter, is solemnly interesting and instructive. In the first verse we have the summons given to the destroyers of Jerusalem to “draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon;" and immediately “six men appeared, and every man had a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side ; and they went in and stood by the side of the brazen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house; and the Lord called to the man clothed with linen and who had the inkhorn by his side, and said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, 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 he said, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men who were before the house." So fearful was the slaughter that the prophet's heart sank within him, and he cried to the Lord, and pleaded for a mitigation of the judgment. But the wickedness of the people had been so great that mercy had reached its utmost limit, and therefore the execution of the judgment could neither be stayed nor mitigated. How dreadful was all this ! Verily, God will not be mocked. Men may defy their Maker and exult in sin for a time, but their triumph will be short, and the end thereof terrible. And if judgments be delayed because the Lord is slow to anger, they will fall the heavier when they come.
A few words as to the meaning of some things mentioned in this (ninth) chapter.
The being who speaks is the same that appeared to the prophet at the commencement of the vision. He speaks with divine authority, and must therefore himself be properly divine. Whether, as is supposed by many, it is to be understood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person in the Trinity, we presume not dogmatically to decide. He is represented in the first verse as crying in the ears of the prophet with a loud voice. This may be regarded as denoting the urgent and alarming character of the circumstances, and the great earnestness of the speaker. Some suppose that by the six men with destroying weapons in their hands, mentioned in the second verse, we are to understand the Chaldeans, who were the instruments employed by Providence to destroy the city. It is supposed by others that the six men with the slaughter weapons, and the man differently dressed, with an inkhorn by his side, may represent the seven counsellors of the Eastern monarchs, who always knew the king's mind, and were in all the secrets of the government. The one with the inkhorn might be termed the Recorder, who carried the book of death and the book of life. In these books were recorded the names of criminals. In the book of death were recorded those who had to suffer; in the book of life were found the names of those who were declared innocent, or to whom pardon was extended. Others, again, are of opinion that the six men with the destroying weapons represent destroying angels, who were commissioned to destroy the people for their great wickedness, as angels destroyed Sodom; and that if the Chaldeans are referred to at all it is only in a secondary sense ; and further, that the man with the inkhorn represents the Saviour, who sets his mark on those who are his, who sigh and cry over the sins of the people, and will save them to the uttermost. We are free to confess that we incline to this as the most likely interpretation. The removal of the glory from the cherub, whereon it had rested, to the threshold of the house, may indicate and symbolize God's departure from them, as to the manifestations of his presence and favour. The whole account is most impressive.
Now these things are put on record for our benefit, and well will it be if we profit by them as we ought. What lessons may we deduce from this portion of Holy Writ? We may learn
1. That the possession of religious knowledge and privileges is no proof of the heart being right with God, and furnishes no infallible safeguard against temptation and sin. These abominations ought not to have been committed in Jerusalem. Much better things might reasonably have been expected. Amid the holy and blessed memories, associations, and influences of the place, one would have thought the commission of such follies and wickedness would have been impossible. And by a people, too, to whom the Lord had been so gracious, and on whom he had conferred so many privileges ! But so it was. Even Jerusalem was polluted and scandalized by the grossest and foulest sins which men and women could possibly commit. Unhappily, the conduct of these “ Jerusalem sinners” has too often been imitated in greater or less degrees of intensity. It not unfrequently occurs that privileges are possessed only to be abused. We may know the will of God, and yet rebel against him. We may dwell in Jerusalem, and defile it by our sins. The history of the Church, in very many instances, has not been of a character to afford anything like unmingled satisfaction. It has, indeed, to no inconsiderable extent, especially at some periods, been a history of corruptions, inconsistencies, and follies. Religion has been but a cloak for the greatest moral delinquencies. Christ has thus been wounded in the house of his friends far more grievously than by the mightiest and most desperate efforts of his sworn foes. There have been many foul deeds done in “Jerusalem” since Ezekiel's time. It is deeply afflictive, and, indeed, sickening, to think of these things. The Lord help us rightly to use our privileges, and to live consistently!
2. We may learn from this vision, in the next place, that when iniquity abounds it is the solemn duty of God's saints to manifest a decided and uncompromising adherence to the right and the true, and to evince their sympathy with the Divine mind by mourning over the sins of the people. These men who had the mark of Jehovah's approval put upon them were men of genuine sterling piety and true religious sympathy, who felt for the honour of God, the welfare of his cause, and the safety of the souls around them; and it was because they thus felt that they sighed and cried for the abominations that were done in the midst of Jerusalem. The language employed is very expressive, and full of significant meaning, Sighing is generally the first expression of grief in the heart. How natural for a person who is a subject of this emotion to sigh. Then, as the feeling increases in intensity, it finds an utterance in tears, and not unfrequently in piercing lamentations and cries. Now, this was just the feeling which pervaded and filled the hearts of these good men in Jerusalem, and which should pervade and fill the hearts of all the Lord's people, when they think of the abominations that are being committed, and the souls that are perishing. Yes, our hearts should be filled with the feeling that can only find vent in sighs and tears and cries to God.
But are we in circumstances, some may ask, which ought to produce this state of feeling? Is there really anything which renders it obligatory on God's children at the present time to mourn, and sigh, and cry? Alas ! if we open our eyes and ears we shall not have long to wait for an affirmative answer. Even of our beloved fatherland, highly favoured as it is, what a picture might be drawn! Nowhere can we look but sin abounds. Nowhere can we look but God is dishonoured. Nowhere can we look but the trail of the old serpent is visible. What numbers of mammon worshippers, and fame worshippers, and fashion worshippers, and pleasure worshippers, there are everywhere amongst us! What drunkenness, and wantonness, and obscenity; what profane swearing, and lying, and sabbathbreaking; what dishonesty, and deception, and trickery; what unhallowed rivalry, and strife, and contention ; what envy, and hatred, and malice; what bodily maimings, and murders, and atrocities, are continually being perpetrated! And even among professors of religion, what formality, what worldliness, what criminal apathy and indifference, and what glaring and fearful inconsistencies are beheld ! And have we not at the present moment the saddening fact before us of a decrease in the membership of all the Methodist bodies ? And may not this numerical decrease, after all the explanations and pallia
Even of hit be drawn but God
tions which have been offered, be fairly and legitimately attributed to spiritual declension ? It is true, there has been a gratifying measure of material prosperity realised, in the shape of chapel and school building, &c., and for this we ought to be thankful; but are we to accept this—will God accept it—as substitutionary for numerical and spiritual advancement? In other words, ought we to accept material prosperity-and will God accept it—in lieu of the conversion of souls and the increase and enlargement of the Redeemer's spiritual kingdom ? Surely not. We are not accurately acquainted with the present numerical state of the other religious denominations of our land, but there is too much reason to fear that they are not in a condition which ought to be regarded as satisfactory. And if we look away from our own country, and from Christendom, to other parts of the world, the picture becomes still darker. What idolatry, and superstition, and barbarism, and revolting cruelties, and horrid abominations, still prevail and abound among the nations of the earth! Oh, is there not a needs be for us to mourn over these things? Can we contemplate them with uncon. cern ? Are they not enough to make us shudder? Do they not furnish cause for tears, and cries, and efforts ?
Does any one say it is weak and unmanly to yield to this feeling, and to make so much ado on this subject? What! weak and unmanly to feel when the honour of God and the eternal well-being of immortal souls are at stake? Was it weak in David when rivers of water ran down his eyes because men kept not the divine law? Was it weak in these men mentioned by Ezekiel to sigh and to cry in Jerusalem because of the abominations that were done there? Does God's Word say so? Was it unmanly in Paul when he had great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart because of the wickedness of his countrymen? Was it weak and unmanly in Jesus Christ when he wept over Jerusalem because of her sins and her impending doom? Ah, how the Saviour felt on the subject of men's salvation let Gethsemane and Calvary testify! And we should feel. We should feel more than we have yet done. If more were felt, more would be done. It is only empty talk to profess to feel for souls if we do nothing to save them. If we saw a man in a building that was on fire, and felt for him, we should try to save him. If we saw a man struggling in the water, and felt for him, we should try to save him. If we saw a man on the edge of a frightful precipice, unconscious of his danger, and felt for him, we should try to save him. And if we feel as we ought respecting the salvation of our fellow-men, we shall mourn over their sins and try to save their souls. There will be sighs, and tears, and prayers, and efforts. Woe be to us if we are at ease in Zion! Woe be to us if we can fold our arms and rest in inglorious inactivity while sin abounds and the pit of hell is swallow
ing down its “careless prey !" Preachers, leaders, stewards, members, Sabbath-school teachers, tract distributors, and all, let us arouse ourselves ; let us wake up to our responsibility, our duty, our work, and "cry” mightily to God that he may send us down a rich baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that we may experience a blessed revival of his work, and yet live to praise him. Blessed be his name, he is ready, if we try and prove him, by fervent prayer, living faith, and earnest work, to open the windows of heaven and vouchsafe such a measure of blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. May it come, and that speedily!
3. Again, we may learn from this portion of God's Word that Jehovah will ever be mindful of those who love and obey him, while he awards justly-merited punishment to the sinful and rebellious. The wicked in Jerusalem were to be destroyed, but no harm was to come to the men who "sighed and cried.” The mark put upon them by the “ man with the inkhorn” was an effectual protection. The Lord knoweth those who are his, and will save them. Those who " sighed and cried” had lived to God and done their duty, and that under the most trying circumstances; nor can we tell to what extent they had been useful, even amid the general wickedness; and now that the offenders were about to be cut off, the Divine Being signally interposed in behalf of his faithful ones, and secured their safety. So shall it ever be, if not in a temporal, yet in a spiritual sense. The thunderbolts of Jehovah's fury shall fall on the wicked and destroy them, but it shall ever be well with the righteous. Though the wicked join hand in hand they shall not go unpunished—vengeance shall pursue and overtake them ; but the Lord sets his mark on those who believe in his Son Jesus Christ, and who serve him in sincerity and in truth, and they shall be his in the day when he maketh up his jewels. Be it ours so to live that we may please our Heavenly Father, be as “lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,” and keep ourselves“ pure from the blood of all men ;" then will our life be blessed, our end be peace, and our reward be rich and glorious.
“Thou hast made summer.”—Psalm lxxiv. 17. The God of grace and the God of Nature are one. He who in the depths of his counsel devised the wondrous plan of redemption, who in the greatness of his love effected it, and who, by the operation of his Spirit, brings men into possession of the priceless blessings procured by it; this great being did also in the beginning of time place