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fathers, that they may be mutual bleffings in this world, and may rejoice together in the day of the Lord. Pour down thy Spirit upon us, and thy bleffing upon our feed. Satisfy us now with thy mercy, that we may be glad and rejoice all our remaining days. Let thy work appear unto us, and thy glory to our children. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, establish the work of our hands, and bless us with thy falvation."
Ezekiel's affliction in the Death of his Wife, and his Behaviour under it.
A Funeral Sermon.
EZEKIEL xxiv. 18.
So I fpake to the people in the morning, and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning, as I was commanded.
AT the time, when Ezekiel's wife died,
the deftruction of the land of Ifrael by the Chaldeans was near at hand. In the affliction which befel him, and in his behaviour under it, he was a fign to the people. The word of the Lord came to him, faying, "Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the defire of thine eyes with a stroke." The defire of his eyes was his wife; for he fays in our text, "At evening my wife died." She died fuddenly, within a few hours after he was premonifhed of the event. She was taken She was taken away with a
The order which follows is fingular. "Thou
fhalt not mourn nor weep, neither fhall tears run down." This cannot be intended to forbid, either in him or in others, the natural fenfations of grief; for thefe, in fuch an affliction, are unavoidable. Neither our feelings nor our tears are always at our own command. To be incapable of grief for the death of a friend, would not be reason and virtue, but hardness and ftupidity. The words rather import, that the ftroke would be fo fudden and fevere, as to amaze and confound him; that it would lock up the avenues of tears, and deny the relief which nature affords in more moderate afflictions.
In this refpect he was to the Jews a sign of the dreadful calamity impending, under which they fhould not mourn nor weep, but pine away in their grief.
The prophet is next forbidden to use the common badges and tokens of mourning; and thus to fignify to his people, that, in the deftruction of their city, they would be in no condition to use the ceremonies and wear the drefs of forrow, common on other occafions; but would flee, or be driven before their enemies, in fuch habits as could be haftily affumed. "Be thou filent, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put thy fhoes on thy feet, cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.' Partake not of the mourning feafts, which cuftom prescribes on funeral occafions.
"So I fpake to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and in the morning," following her death, "I did as I was commanded." "And the people faid unto me, tell us, what the things, which thou doeft, are to us. I answered them, Thus faith the Lord, I will profane my fanctuary, the excellency of your ftrength and the
defire of your eyes, and that which your foul pitieth; and your fons and your daughters fhall be flain by the fword; and ye fhall do as I have done. Ye fhall not cover your lips," in token of mourning, nor eat the bread of men. Ye fhall not mourn nor weep, but shall pine away in your iniquities."
The words of our text, taken in their connexion, fuggeft to us the following thoughts:
That the death of a wife is a moft painful affliction That under an affliction of this kind careful attention must be paid to the commands of God That in fuch an event, others are con cerned, as well as the immediate fufferer.
I. The death of a wife is here reprefented, as one of the most painful afflictions incident to mortals.
Ezekiel's wife is called "the defire of his eyes." And his affliction in her death was to the Jews a fign of their approaching diftrefs in the deftruction of their cities and the depopulation of their country, in which general calamity each one's fhare would perhaps little exceed the anguish of a husband in the death of his partner.
The happiness of human life greatly depends on fociety and friendship. None of the focial connexions are fo intimate and affectionate, fo ftrong and interefting, as the conjugal connexion. This is founded in love, cemented by reciprocal offices of kindness, ftrengthened by a community of intereft, especially by a common relation to, and concern in the dependent members of the family. The diffolution of this connexion breaks one of the closest focial ties, and croffes one of the ftrongeft affections of humanity. It places the furviver in a lonely condition, and involves him in new and unexperienced cares. His affliction is
increased by the forrow which he feels for his children, perhaps for a helpless offspring, deprived of a parent, and unable to realize their lofs. Hence their lofs is more fenfibly realized by him. In other afflictions he could find one to take an equal fhare with him. But this he must bear alone without a partner to divide it with him. This fpreads a gloom over the face of nature, and darkens all his worldly profpects. Every new care, which meets him, reminds him of his lofs, and calls up his forrows afresh. The objects, which once gave him pleasure, look as if they could please no more; the business, which formerly he pursued with cheerfulness, becomes a burden, because the one, who was wont to participate in his joys, is gone.
This affliction is, in fcripture, placed among the most painful adverfities incident to our mortal ftate. They who have experienced it acknowledge the representation to be juft.
The trial is more overwhelming, when it comes fuddenly. In the prophet's cafe, it was an aggravating circumftance, that the defire of his eyes was taken away with a stroke, and within a few hours after the first apprehenfion of danger.
To a godly perfon a fudden death is as fafe as a lingering one. But to furviving friends it is more diftreffing, because it finds them unprepared for it. The expectation of fuch an event gradually puts the mind in an attitude to meet it. Though perhaps a long suspension between hope and fear may give equal pain on the whole, yet at no moment is the anguish fo keen, as when the ftroke falls fuddenly. The mind, like the body, can sustain a heavier burden laid on by gentle degrees, and flowly increased, than if it fall with its full weight at once. In the former cafe, we brace