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EZEKIEL ix. 4. And the Lord said unto him, Go through the
micist of the city, through the midst of Jerufalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads. of the men that figh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midf thereof.
H E Apostle Paul, having recited to
the Christians at Corinth some of I those awful judgements which God
had inflicted upon his ancient church for their rebellion and obstinacy, fubjoins these memorable words, i Cor. X. 11. “ Now all these things happened “ unto them for ensamples, (or types, as the “ word is rendered in the margin); and “ they are written for our admonition, upon “ whom the ends of the world are come.” The Bible, though it records the actions of men, yet, properly speaking, is the hisVOL. II.
tory of God, and contains an account of his proceedings with his creatures in a great variety of instances ; that from those acts of government, compared with what he positively declares concerning himself, we may be enabled to form the clearest and juitest conceptions of his nature and will; and may learn, with undoubted certainty, what we have either to fear or to hope from him.
God is always the fame; “ with him “ there is no variableness, neither shadow “ of turning :” and therefore in his past procedure, we see the plan of his present and future administration; which brings the passage I have been reading home to ourselves, and interests us deeply in the matter it contains.
In the preceding chapter, the prophet had got a full view of the abominations that were done in the midst of Jerusalem; and here he gets a visionary representation of their punishment. He beholds fix men approaching the city, each of them armed with a destroying weapon, who are expressly commanded to pay the inhabitants, both old
and young, beginning at the sanctuary. But before they proceed to execution, one distinguished by his garb, being clothed with linen, and having a writer's inkborn by his fide, receives the gracious commission recorded in my text, to separate the precious from the vile, by setting a mark upon their foreheads, that they might not be involved in the ruin of their fellow-citizens.
Whether any sentence of wrath hath already gone forth against these sinful lands to which we belong, must be to us an impenetrable secret : “ The heart of a king is “ unsearchable,” said Solomon; much more is the heart of the King of kings. But surely it can never be 'unseasonable to lead your attention to a passage of Scripture, where God's mercy to the penitent, and his peculiar concern for their safety, are seż before us in so just and striking a light.
Godly forrow for abounding iniquity, is at all times a dutiful and becoming exercise; nevertheless there are certain seasons when the call to it may be considered as more loud and pressing. Some of these I shall mention in the first place.