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EZEKIEL ix. 4.
And the Lord faid unto him, Go through the mift of the city, through the midst of Ferufalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads. of the men that figh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midft thereof.
HE Apostle Paul, having recited to the Chriftians at Corinth fome of thofe awful judgements which God
had inflicted upon his ancient church for their rebellion and obftinacy, fubjoins thefe memorable words, 1 Cor. X. II. "Now all these things happened "unto them for enfamples, (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 hif
tory of God, and contains an account of his proceedings with his creatures in a great variety of inftances; that from thofe acts of government, compared with what he pofitively declares concerning himself, we may be enabled to form the clearest and justeft 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 variablenefs, neither fhadow "of turning :" and therefore in his paft procedure, we fee the plan of his prefent and future adminiftration; which brings the paffage I have been reading home to ourfelves, and interefts 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 midft of Jerufalem; and here he gets a vifionary reprefentation of their punishment. He beholds fix men approaching the city, each of them armed with a deftroying weapon, who are expressly commanded to Aay the inhabitants, both old
and young, beginning at the fanctuary. But before they proceed to execution, one diftinguished by his garb, being clothed with linen, and having a writer's inkhorn by his fide, receives the gracious commiffion recorded in my text, to feparate the precious from the vile, by fetting a mark upon their foreheads, that they might not be involved in the ruin of their fellow-citizens.
fentence of wrath hath already gene forth against these finful lands to which we belong, must be to us an impenetrable fecret: "The heart of a king is "unfearchable," faid Solomon; much more is the heart of the King of kings. But furely it can never be unfeasonable to lead your attention to a paffage of Scripture, where God's mercy to the penitent, and his peculiar concern for their fafety, are fet 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 feafons when the call to it may be confidered as more loud and preffing. Some of these I shall mention in the first place.