Ezekiel 44:27
And on the day he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he must present his sin offering, declares the Lord GOD.
Sermons
A Good Minister of Jesus ChristW. Clarkson Ezekiel 44:17-31
Substantial WealthJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 44:27-30


In every part of the world there is hunger, more or less, to possess land. By long observation men have discovered that to possess land is to possess influence and honor among their fellow-men. Is not land essential as the foundation of the harvest-crops? And are not crops of corn and fruit essential to the life of men? Is not agriculture the mainstay of a nation's well-being? Yet without land agriculture is impossible; is it not therefore reasonable that men should eagerly long to call the land their own? On the other hand, this anxiety chains down men's thoughts to inferior occupations and to a provision for their inferior nature. Such anxiety tends to draw away their attention from God and to weaken their sense of pious trust. In order to counteract this disastrous tendency, God appointed a class of men whose business it should be to keep God prominently before the eyes of their fellow-men. These servants of God were precluded from acquiring wealth. They were to be wholly employed in fostering the religious life in men. For their maintenance God provided in a special manner. These priests were designed to be models of human life, patterns of later Christians. God's method for teaching the race is this - viz., to set down a good man in their midst, and to inspire others with the desire to imitate him. If one man can live and prosper by virtue of implicit and practical faith in God, other men can. By diligent culture of the land, God has ordained that human life shall be sustained. Yet God is not shut up to this one system. "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

I. EARTHLY POSSESSION IS ONLY A MEANS TO AN END. It is not a blessing, but only a medium of blessing. It is part of God's system of means. The land exists with a view to harvest. The harvest is produced with a view to man's bodily life. Man's bodily life is sustained with a view to his spiritual character. On the whole, it is best that the land should be appropriated to personal possession. This secures that the land shall be cultivated in the highest degree, and that the crops shall be protected from premature use. If all land should remain as common property, there would be lack of inducement to cultivate it; there would be lack of inducement to personal exertion; there would be no check to extravagant waste. Personal possession is best for a community; yet it becomes a waste and an injury if a man possesses more than he can cultivate. God gives not land to a man in order that he may be tyrannical, selfish, puffed up with overweening conceit. This is a miserable perversion of a Divine gift. Land is created for cultivation. Cultivation of laud is designed for the support of human life. And all the laud in the world is worth nothing to me except as it ministers to the health and vigor of my life.

II. GOD CAN SECURE THIS END BY OTHER SYSTEMS OF MEANS. The best proof that, he can do so is the fact that he has done so on many occasions. It would be the height of folly to suppose that God has not made the wisest possible arrangement for the well-being of men. Yet if men abuse the arrangement and push God away from his rightful place, God can alter his system, and bring about his end by other agencies. He sustained the life of Abraham, gave him wealth and influence among men, while, at the same time, he refused to give him a rood of land. He was the Special Protector of the Hebrew nation; yet he led them about the desert for the lifetime of a whole generation, where harvests could not be gathered, and where land was not desired as a possession. Yet they wanted not for food or for clothing. God was to them better than all harvests. So Jesus Christ called away the twelve from their secular pursuits; yet he did not suffer them to want any good thing. Jesus himself preferred to have no encumbrance of land or wealth. He freely chose the state of poverty. To him, living in such intimate union with his Father, landed possession would have been a needless burden; yet, not only were his own wants supplied, but he royally spread a table for others. What the Son did on earth was the visible effect of his Father's working.

III. UNSELFISH SERVICE BRINGS TO A MAN THE LARGEST GAIN. He who forgets himself in his generous kindness is not forgotten by his fellows - is not forgotten by God. The family of Zadok were prohibited from being landholders. Nevertheless, they shall not want. "Every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs." "The first of all the firstfruits" shall be theirs. God out-distances all his creatures in generously rewarding faithful service. In his book every item of devoted toil and sacrifice is noted; for it ample reward is preparing. Just as one pain of corn will produce, in the harvest, a hundred grains, so consecrated service is living seed - it shall fructify into splendid results. Did Abraham ever regret his unswerving fidelity to God? Does St. Paul feel today that he made too great sacrifices of himself for others? Has any one been a loser for serving God? It almost savors of profanity to propose such a question. The true servants of God shall enjoy the tribute due to God himself. Statesmen, under a mighty king, are rewarded with a goodly share of the revenue of the empire; so the tribute paid into God's temple God distributes among his priests. For them who serve God well other men labor. Other men till the ground and prepare the produce. They who do the highest work shall have the best reward. Thus it was predicted, "Strangers shall stand and feed your flock, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen and your vine-dressers; but ye shall be called the Priests of the Lord." Like many other good things, the name and the office of the priest have been made a curse. Yet a true priest - God's servant to mankind - is a very fount of blessing. He is like salt in the earth - a preserving and purifying power. Wherever he comes he is a spring-season of life and joy. He is to be well cared for, so "that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house."

IV. THE DEVOTED SERVANT OF GOD OBTAINS A PROPRIETORSHIP IN GOD. "I am their Inheritance... I am their Possession." An estate is not really ours because we call it ours. We cannot call anything ours unless it becomes a part and parcel of ourselves. If it adds to our character and our strength, then, and only then, is it ours. The land estate is often the master of the man. He lives to improve it rather than to be improved by it. We possess property when we really get some advantage out of it. So is it also with respect to God. If we make God our Friend, we extract advantage from him. If we believe his promises and open our souls to his vitalizing grace, we are enriched from him. God's wisdom becomes our wisdom. His righteousness becomes our righteousness. His love becomes a fountain of love in us. We are "partakers of the Divine nature." In a very emphatic sense God gives himself to us. Every capacity in us may be filled with God. If we are fully God's property, God is our Portion - our Inheritance. This is transcendent condescension, the sublimity of love.

V. TO POSSESS GOD IS TO POSSESS ALL THINGS. On this account it would have been a superfluity if Jesus had been a Proprietor of wealth. Of what advantage would it have been for him to possess fields, if he could create a sufficient supply of bread by the magic of command? Although the poorest, he was yet the richest of men. It is understood that he who possesses the key of the bank possesses the contents of the hank. If the Creator be mine, if I can call him "my Father," then whatever his creation contains of good is mine also. It is clear that I must, as a creature, be dependent. Is it better to depend on law or on the Lawgiver? on the cistern or on the Fount? on blind circumstances or Omniscient Wisdom? on natural forces or on the all-creative God? My faith is founded in common sense. God undertakes to be my Friend - my Father. Then I am his child; and" if a son, then an heir - heir of God; "All things are yours, for ye are... God's." - D.







They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane.
I. You can judge of the moral character of any amusement BY ITS HEALTHFUL RESULT, OR BY ITS BALEFUL REACTION. In proportion as a ship is swift, it wants a strong helmsman; in proportion as a horse is gay, it wants a stout driver; and people of exuberant nature will do well to look at the reaction of all their amusements. If an amusement sends you home at night nervous, so that you cannot sleep, and you rise up in the morning, not because you are slept out, but because your duty drags you from your slumbers, you have been where you ought not to have been. If any amusement sends you home longing for a life of romance and thrilling adventure, love that takes poison and shoots itself, moonlight adventures and hairbreadth escapes, you may depend upon it that you are the sacrificed victim of unsanctified pleasure. Our recreations are intended to build us up; and if they pull us down as to our moral or as to our physical strength, you may come to the conclusion that they are in the class spoken of by my text as obnoxious.

II. Those amusements are wrong WHICH LEAD YOU INTO EXPENDITURE BEYOND YOUR MEANS. The table has been robbed to pay the club. The champagne has cheated the children's wardrobe. Excursions that in a day make a tour around a whole month's wages; ladies whose lifetime business it is to "go shopping"; bets on horses and a box at the theatre have their counterparts in uneducated children, bankruptcies that shock the money market and appall the Church, and that send drunkenness staggering across the richly figured carpet of the mansion, and dashing into the mirror, and drowning out the carol of music with the whooping of bloated sons come home to break their old mother's heart. When men go into amusements that they cannot afford, they first borrow what they cannot earn, and then they steal what they cannot borrow. First, they go into embarrassment, and then into lying, and then into theft; and when a man gets as far on as that, he does not stop short of the penitentiary. There is not a prison in the land where there are not victims of unsanctified amusements.

III. Those are unchristian amusements WHICH BECOME THE CHIEF BUSINESS OF A MAN'S LIFE. Your sports are merely means to an end. They are alleviations and helps. The arm of toil is the only arm strong enough to bring up the bucket out of the deep well of pleasure. Amusement is only the bower where business and philanthropy rest while on their way to stirring achievements. Amusements are merely the vines that grow about the anvil of toil, and the blossoming of the hammers. Alas for the man who spends his life in laboriously doing nothing, his days in hunting up lounging places and loungers, his nights in seeking out some gas-lighted foolery! The amusements of life are merely the orchestra playing while the great tragedy of life plunges through its five acts — infancy, childhood, manhood, old age, and death. Then exit the last chance for mercy. Enter the overwhelming realities of an eternal world!

IV. Those amusements are wrong WHICH LEAD INTO BAD COMPANY. If you belong to an organisation where you have to associate with the intemperate, with the unclean, with the abandoned, however well they may be dressed, in the name of God quit it. They will despoil your nature. They will undermine your moral character. They will drop you when you are destroyed. They will give not one cent to support your children when you are dead. They will weep not one tear at your burial. They will chuckle over your damnation.

V. ANY AMUSEMENT THAT GIVES YOU A DISTASTE FOR DOMESTIC LIFE IS BAD. How many bright domestic circles have been broken up by sinful pleasuring! The father went off, the mother went off, the child went off. There are today the fragments before me of a great many blasted households. Oh, if you have wandered away, I would like to charm you back by the sound of that one word "home." Do you not know that you have but little more time to give to domestic welfare? Do you not see, father, that your children are soon to get out into the world, and all the influence for good you are to have over them you are to have now? Death will break in on your conjugal relations, and alas, if you have to stand over the grave of one who perished from your neglect!

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

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