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CHAP. XIV.

The design of this chapter is to expose the hypocrisy of those who

pretended to be worshippers of God while they were idolaters, and 80 shew what calamities should come on Judea.

I

T HEN came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and 2 1 sat before me.* And the word of the Lord came unto 3 me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in

their heart, though they pretend to have renounced them, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face, set un idols as objects of worship, which is their sin, and will be their ruin : should I be inquired of at all by them ? should I give such hypocrites a favourable answer? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet ; I the LORD will an

swer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols ; 5 I will judge and punish him accordingly ; That I may take

the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols ; that I may give them up to the natural and judicial consequences of their idolatry.

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God ; Repent, and turn (yourselves] from your idols ; 7 and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For

every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, apostatizes from my service, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning

me; I the LORD will answer him by myself, by my awful judga 8 ments upon him : And I will set my face against that man, I will directly and resolutely oppose him, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people ; and ye shall know that I am the LORD ; his pun. ishment shall be 80 remarkable, that it shall become proverbial. And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet ; or, Have I the Lord deceived that prophet? is it to be charged upon me ? or rather, I have permitted him to be deceived (as such an expression in scripture often signifies) as a punishment for his idolatries and

ers were is uncertain ; probably some persons of note, who came from Jerusalem to the king of Babylon, or on some other business in that country. These cime to attend on Ezekies with an il design ; particularly, to see if they could discern any contradiction between his prophecica and Jeremiah's, in order to weaken the authority of both.

VOL. VI.

pretences 10 inspiration ; and I will stretch out my hand up:

on him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people 10 Israel.* And they shall bear the punishment of their iniqui

ty: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the pun

ishment of him that seeketh [unto him,] because they are both 11 equally guilty ; and the design of the punishment is, That the

house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions : but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the

Lord God. 12 13 The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, Son of

man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and

will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine 14 upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these

three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should de. liver (but] their own souls by their righteousness, saith the

Lord Gob.t. 15 If I cause noisoine beasts to pass through the land, and they

spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through 16 because of the beasts : (Though these three men [were) in

it, [as] I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters ; they only shall be delivered, but the land

shall be desolate 17. Or [if] I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go

through the land ; so that I cut off man and beast from it : 18 Though these three men (were] in it, [as] I live, saith the

Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but

they only shall be delivered themselves. 19 Or (if ] I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my

fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast : 20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, (were) in it, [as] I live, saith

the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall [but] deliver their own souls by their right.

eousness. 21 For thus saith the Lord God; How much more when

I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast ? The sins of this people are so provoking, that I will unite all my judgments against them.

• Hence it is clear that the divine permissicn of his deception was consistent with bis Justice in punishing it.

+ God may be so provoked with the sins of a nation, and so determined to destroy them, that he will hear no intercession for them; though Nrah were to intercede, who was bin. selt delivered because he was righteous, and delivered his children though they were not all gond: or Job, who interceded for his fricids, and prevailed. To these Daniel is added, who was now alive, and but a young man. This honour God conferred upon him. as he intended to make him a great blesing to the public, and to animate him to :i1 his services, and comfort him under all his sufferings. The Jews at Jerusalem might hear of the grew ing fame of Daniel, and think that if he had been with them they should have been deliv. ered; but God assures them of the contrary.

82 Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be

brought forth, (both) sons and daughters : behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their do. ings : and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, [even) concerning all that I have brought upon it ; some shall be saved from the desolation and carried captive ; and those that were in Babylon before, shall rejoice that they have neither done wickedly nor suffered as others; and they shall rejoice likewise to see so good an effect

upon the temper and lives of their countrymen, as their suf23 forings will produce. And they shall comfort you, when

ye see their ways and their doings : and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God; but that I have acted with per. fect justice and a gracious design, and have mercy yet in store for them.

REFLECTIONS.

I. CEE how God resents the hypocrisy of his professing peo,

D ple. These elders pretended to inquire the will of the Lord, while they had cast off his worship, and were entirely devoted to idolatry. Thus many come now to the house of God, seemingly with good intentions, yet their hearts are estranged from him ; they have a secret antipathy to him and his service ; they attend, to keep up their reputation and satisfy their con sciences; yet are determined to retain their sins, and will not part with their beloved lusts. This is highly affronting to God, who knows their hearts and designs. They cannot expect peace; their own hearts seduce them, their own consciences will chastise them, and God will condemn them.

2. The hand of God is to be observed and acknowledged in all calamities. Observe how God speaks of this in v. 13, 15, 17, 19. We see here his universal dominion, his power over all creatures, and how many ways he has of punishing a sinful people, who will not fear before him continually.

3. God's judgments upon men are designed to prevent their going astray, (v. 11.) or to reclaim them from wandering, and keep them near to him and faithful in his service for the fu. ture ; and to be a warning to others, that they do not pollute their souls, and lose the comforts and privileges of God's people. Let us consider our private afflictions in this light, and im. prove them to these purposes ; that we may be able to say with David, before I was afflicted, I went astray, but since I have kept thy word.

4. See the efficacy of prayer, and how much it is our duty to intercede for a guilty land, v. 14-20. This passage plainly intimates, that the intercessions of holy men have great weight with God. He sometimes spares a wicked country, for the sake of the godly ; but if they go on to sin presumptuously, and the measure of their iniquities is full, even these will not prevail ; no not even to save their wicked children : nev. ertheless they will deliver their own souls, and not lose their final reward.

CHAP. XV.

The design of this chapter is to represent how worthle88 Jerusalem

was become. The Jewish church is often compared to a vire, on account of its excellent fruit ; but having quite lost all goodness and usefulness, it was fil for nothing but to be destroyed.

1 AND the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree,

[or than) a branch of any tree which is among the trees of 3 the forest, if it bears no fruit ? Shall wood be taken thereof

to do any work ? or will [men) take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon ? any common timber tree is more useful than a thousand vines, only for fruit ; so Jerusalem is only honourable and serviceable by being holy ; but, being degenerated, they are

become good for nothing, as they know le88 of sciences, trade, and 4 politics, than other nations. Behold, it is cast into the fire for

fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of 5 it is burned. Is it meet for sany] work? Behold, when

it was whole, it was meet for no work : how much less shall it be meet yet for (any) work, when the fire hath devoured it and it is burned ? Concerning other wood they say, it is a pity to burn it, it may do for this or the other use ; but no man has a thought of taking a vine branch out of the fire : thus both the extremities of Judea shall be consumed by the ravages of the en.

emy, and the capital city, which is in the middle, shall be destroy6 ed. Therefore thus saith the Lord God ; As the vine tree , among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire

for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem, because hy they are become degenerate and worthless. And I will set my

face against them ; they shall go out from (one) fire, and [another] fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I set my face against them; they shall go from one calamity to another, from one allack of the Chaldeans

to another ; if they escape one judgment, they shall fall into a 8 greater. And I will make the land desolate, because they

have committed a trespass, saith the Lord God; they have prevaricated with God, professed to serve him, but still acted wickedly.

REFLECTIONS. W E may hence take occasion to reflect on the wisdom

V and goodness of God, in the various productions of the earth, especially the trees. For how many uses are they fitted and designed! Some for building, others to make vessels and utensils of various kinds; some to delight us with their flowers and shade, and others with their fruit. But the vine is in this respect the glory of all trees, as it produceth wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and, when used in moderation, contributes so much to his happiness. We may well adopt the Psalmist's words, O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all. But,

2. The great lesson from this chapter is, That if they who profess religion are unfruitful, they are the most despicable and unworthy of men. The Jews trusted to their privileges ; because they were represented as God's vineyard, they thought they should not be cut down. But he lets them know, that no privileges would secure them if they were unfruitful ; that the hea. then were better than they, who from a general sense of God and their duty, were just, diligent, faithful, and compassionate. Fruitfulness is the main thing that is expected from us ; and without it, we lose all excellency and esteem in God's sight; and, however men may respect us, we are in his account good for nothing. Let us then look to ourselves, that we improve our advantages, and abound in all the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise and glory of God, and for our own honour and comfort ; otherwise we shall be fit fuel for the fire ; for now also is the ar laid to the root of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the burning,

CHAP. XVI.

This chapter is designed to convince the Jews of their great and

shameful ingratitude to God, especially in their gross idolatry, under the emblem of a person taking care of an helpless exposed infant, bringing her up, marrying her, and supporting her with the greatest elegance and affection, but who after all proved lewd and abandoned. The whole is represented in a most beautiful and affecting light, and was probably sent by letter to Jerusalem,

LA GAIN the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 11 Son of man, 'cause Jerusalem to know her abomina. 3 tions, And say, Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem ;

Thy birth and thy nativity [is] of the land of Canaan ; thy father (was] an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite ; they were

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