페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a border representsory. And grace, as,

[ocr errors]

dissolution or absolute insensibility; it only signifies, that the sinful soul is cut off from all communion with God, who is the fountain of life; it is alienated from the life of God, and has lost its life of happiness in him, being now dead to his grace, as it may, ere long, be dead to his glory. And what then could be a more proper representation of a soul thus dead in sin, than a body dead in the grave ? And what could paint in stronger colours the exceeding deadness of a sinful soul, than the exceeding dryness of the bones of a dead body? Under the death of the outward man the prophet was made to see the death of the inward man. The Spirit of the Lord gave him a full view of these souls dead in sin : “ for he caused me,” says he, “ to « pass by them round about, to go all around them, “ and behold there were very many upon the face of “ the valley, and lo they were very dry:" their number was very great, and their condition was very dead; they had so long, so entirely lost all spiritual life, that the bones of dead men, from which the flesh is worn quite off, and which are become exceeding dry, were not farther removed from life, than the souls thus dead in trespasses and sins. After the prophet had gone all round them, “ The Lord said unto him, Son of man, “ can these bones live? Is there any power that is able 6 to quicken them to newness of life ? And I answered, 6 O Lord God, Thou knowest" Thou only knowest, what power is requisite to raise a soul dead in sin. All the powers in nature I am certain cannot do it. They can no more give life to a dead soul, than they can raise the bones of a dead man to life. Although this was the prophet's opinion, yet the Lord said unto him, “ Prophesy unto these bones, and say unto them, O ye “ dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith “ the Lord God, Behold I will lay sinews upon you, 6 and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you 66 with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live, 66 and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I pro66 phesied as I was commanded." He did not consult

any of ourile the me that hed what the Lor

carnal reason which would have shewed him the absurdity of doing what God commanded; but he instantly obeyed, and began preaching to the dry bones, and calling upon them to hear the word of the Lord. Would not some of you, my brethren, have taken him to be quite disordered in his head, if you had seen him preaching in a church-yard to a great number of dead dry bones ? Would you not have thought Ezekiel as mad as any of our modern enthusiasts ? For men reproach and ridicule the ministers of the gospel for doing the very same thing that he did. We are reckoned visionaries and madmen, and what not, because after his example we preach the word of the Lord to the dead. When we tell sinners, that they are all dead, dead to God, dead to grace, and may soon die to glory; and when we call upon them in the name of the Lord to awake from the dead sleep of sin, that Christ may give them life, then they mock and ridicule. The same men would have made as great a jest of the prophet, if they had seen him preaching to a congregation of dry bones. But he preached as he was commanded, and so do we. Lord grant the success may be the same. The blessed Jesus sends us to preach the word to dry bones, and we obey. He sends us out in his name, with his commission, and in his strength, and promises to be with us by his Spirit. We should be enthusiasts indeed, if we thought ourselves able to awaken one dead sinner without the effectual working of his power. We know, that it is he who worketh in us and by us: for without him we can do nothing; and therefore let men reproach us for doing his work. We will go on, pitying, and praying for them, and the more they reproach us, the more we will preach, and the more earnestly, to the dead in sill-And who knows but as the work is God's he may speak to the inward ears of the soul, while we are speaking to the outward ears of the body, and bid the sinner awake and live. Glory be to his holy name, for that he often accompanies this foolishness of preaching with his divine

[ocr errors]

power. Thanks be to him for setting his seal to the truth of our words, by awakening the dead through our weak ministry. O that his good Spirit may now seal the word, and by his blessing fulfil what follows in the parable" So I prophesied as I was commanded, and

as I prophesied there was a noise,” in the Hebrew, a voice, namely, the voice of God. The prophet was speaking, and to say that there was a voice while he was speaking would be mere tautology, and unmeaning repetition, if we apply it to him. But if while he spake the power of the Lord was present, then the driest bones would hear; and if while we address ourselves to the outward ears the voice of God carries the sound at the same time to the heart, then even the dead hear this almighty voice, and awake, and see their guilt and danger, and begin to be concerned about their salvation. When the Spirit of God speaks conviction to the heart, these effects always fol. low, and it is evident the voice was his from what is mentioned next in the parable ; for as I prophesied there was a voice, and behold, a shaking— Behold, a matter worthy of the closest attention, there was a great shaking among the dry bones, even as it were an earthquake among them : for the word rendered shaking is the scripture term for an earthquake. And behold, there is as great a shaking in the soul of the sinner when he is awakened and convinced of sin; he that has been dead in sin, helpless and lost for ever in himself then begins to quake and trembleHe sees the corruption of his nature-odious and abominable altogether-He sees his life was one continued scene of open injury to God, and dishonour to his law-Looking back he beholds nothing but guilt-Looking forward he beholds nothing but everlasting destruction, upon which fear and a horrible dread overwhelm him. The holy Spirit sets home these convictions upon the conscience. He gives it such a sight of the guilt and danger of sin, that the sinner sees he cannot save himself. In this distress he continues, until the remainder

[ocr errors]

of the parable be fulfilled in him: for we read, that after the shaking—“The bones came together, bone to “ his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and 65 the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered " them above, but there was no breath in them.” Here is in the letter of the parable the outside and shape of man—a body, but it is inanimate-there is no life in it. So in the spiritual sense, if the soul should rest in the externals of religion, and sit down content with any thing short of the vital influence of the Holy Spirit, there is no life in it. Whatever may promise to animate it, still it will remain dead: Good works, ordinances, orthodoxy, are but the letter that killeth, unless the Spirit that giveth life be in them. You may belong to the best constituted church upon earth, which has sound articles and creeds like strong bones and sinews, and flesh upon them, and which has a good liturgy, and decent public worship like a fair skin to cover all; and yet in this communion your soul may be dead : for these external privileges cannot give the breath of life to the soul. It is the Spirit that « quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing," the flesh (the externals of religion) profiteth nothing unless the Spirit animate them, as we learn from the next words in the parable. Then said he unto me, Prophesy “ unto the wind and say, Thus saith the Lord God, « Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe 6 upon these slain, that they may live. So I pro6 phesied as he commanded me, and the breath came “ into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their “ feet, an exceeding great army." Glory be to God for daily fulfilling this part of the parable. His good Spirit daily awakens poor dead sinners, and puts the breath of divine life into them; and this he does by the weakest means, even by the foolishness of preaching, that it may appear the power comes from him, and that all the glory may return to him. He sends us out to preach, bids us call to the dead—We do as we are commanded ; but we know that we could no mure raise a dead scal from the grace of sia, than we and raise a dead body from the grare of corruption. We weak our Lord's words and be blesses them. He sends bis grace a scg witb them, and the dead hear his voice. They awake. They ste their guüt and their danger: at the sight of which their hearts sink within ther-they find themselves perishing--and a great treobling and violent shaking seizes them. Fear is on every side. No way is left to escape, but to fly to the Saviour of sinners. And as soon as they turn to him, he receives them gladly. He sends the holy Spirit (the dearest pledge of his love) to give them evidence of their new birth unto righteousness, and to assure thern of their justification to life. Then they live unto God--and “ stand up upon their feet," being enabled to go forward in the ways of holiness—“An exceeding s great army,”—an innumerable multitude, which do man could number, and they all hold swords, being expert in war, a great army of the faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ fighting their way to a crown of righteous ness, against all the opposition of sin and Satan, of the world and the flesh, and never quitting the field of battle, until the Captain of their salvation place the neverfading crown upon their heads.

This is, I think, the spiritual sense of the parable. We have in it, a description of man in his natural state as dead in trespasses and sins in his awakened state as unable to do any thing to raise himself from the death of sin to newness of life-and in his justified state, as raised to spiritual and divine life by Christ, who is the life of the world, and by the effectual working of his good Spirit. These great truths, are beautifully paintcd in the parable. It sets them before our eyes in a very affecting manner. And I hope every one of you has been properly affected according to the view he has had of the state of his soul. But whatever impression has been made, I cannot leave the subject, without making some short practical remarks, and may the al

« 이전계속 »