Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Ezekiel 33:8
'My own notion is,' said Keble once, 'that clergymen generally have more to blame themselves for as to neglect in the way of example and the way of intercession than in the way of direct warning.'
This is the motto and text of Richard Baxter's Appeal to the Unconverted, at one part of which he breaks out thus:—'Turn ye.... It is the voice of every affliction to call thee to make haste and turn. Sickness and pain cry, Turn; and poverty, and loss of friends, and every twig of the chastizing rod cry, Turn; and yet wilt thou not hearken to the call? These have come near thee and made thee feel; they have made thee groan, and can they not make thee turn?
'The very frame and nature of thy being itself be-speaketh thy return. Why hast thou reason, but to rule thy flesh and serve thy Lord? Why hast thou an understanding soul, but to learn and know His will, and do it? Why hast thou a heart within thee, that can love, and fear, and desire, but that thou shouldst fear Him, and love Him, and desire after Him'?
References.—XXXIII. 11.—Bishop E. C. S. Gibson, Messages from the Old Testament, p. 194., J. Oswald Dykes, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 253. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx. No. 1795. XXXIII. 14.—J. Baldwin Brown, The Soul's Exodus and Pilgrimage, p. 255. XXXIII. 30-33.—W. M. Punshon, Outlines of Sermons on the Old Testament, p. 259.
It is almost incredible how the soul of these Semites is bound up with the prey of pennies.
—C. M. Doughty, Arabia Deserta, I. p. 55.
To seek no more than a present delight, that evanisheth with the sound of the words that die in the air, is not to desire the word as meat but as music, as God tells the Prophet Ezekiel. And, lo, Thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument: for they hear Thy words and they do them not.... If anyone's head or tongue should grow apace, and all the rest stand at a stay, it would certainly make him a monster; and they are no other, who are knowing and discoursing Christians, and grow daily in that respect, but not at all in holiness of heart and life, which is the proper growth of the children of God.
—From Coleridge's Aids to Reflection.
'Dr. Dove preach'd before the King,' is an entry in Evelyn's Diary for the reign of Charles II., immediately followed by the further comment: 'I saw this evening such a scene of profuse gaming, and the King in the midst of his three concubines, as I had never before seen. Luxurious dallying and profane-ness.'
References.—XXXIII. 32.—J. H. Thom, Laws of Life (2nd Series), p. 196. XXXIII. 32, 33.—R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 87.
It seems hard to be generous, not easy even to be just to the times upon which our lot is cast. The very expression 'our present day' conveys with it something of disparagement, implying a contrast with other ages in whose very silence we find an eloquence rebuking the clamour that surrounds us. Yet much that we now look on as prosaic, and perhaps decry as unreal, if read as history would enchain our imaginations; if spoken as prophecy would stir our very souls. Future chroniclers will make it their wisdom to decipher the Runes we are now dinting, and will understand their import better than we who leave them on the rocks.
As a rule, people discover a man to be worth listening to only after he is gone; their hear, hear! resounds when the orator has left the platform.
The voice comes deepest from the sepulchre, and a great name hath its root in the dead body. If you invited a company to a feast, you might as well place round the table live sheep and oxen and vases of fish and cages of quails, as you would invite a company of friendly hearers to the philosopher who is yet living. One would imagine that the iris of our intellectual eye were lessened by the glory of his presence, and that, like eastern kings, he could be looked at near only when his limbs are stiff, by wax-light, in close curtains.
Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.
When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.
But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.
Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came unto me, saying, The city is smitten.
Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, they that inhabit those wastes of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.
Wherefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Ye eat with the blood, and lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land?
Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour's wife: and shall ye possess the land?
Say thou thus unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.
For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through.
Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.
Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the 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 from 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 shew 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.
And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.