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10 stancy of their pursuit. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, to signify their understanding and prudence, and the face of a lion on the right side, to denote their strength and courage: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side, to show their unwearied diligence and application; they four also had the face of an eagle, to inti11 mate their quickness and penetration. Thus [were] their faces and their wings [were] stretched upward; two [wings] of every one [were] joined one to another, and two covered their bodies; they were in a flying posture, to denote 12 their readiness in executing the divine commands. And they
went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, the Spirit of God, the principle of all their motions, they 13 went; [and] they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance [was] like burning coals of fire, [and] like the appearance of lamps it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire 14 was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning, to denote their diligence and activity, and that, when they had dispatched their business, they returned to their 15 proper station. Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold
one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his 16 four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work [was] like unto the colour of a beryl, a gem of a bluish green : and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work [was] as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel; like four double wheels, or two circles in a sphere; and yet they are spoken of as one wheel, to intimate that the designs of Provi17 dence, however complicated, are perfectly harmonious. When they went, they went upon their four sides: [and] they turned not when they went; they kept one straight course and unbent line of direction, to show that the schemes of Providence are 18 always tending to their accomplishment. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful, to denote the vast designs of Providence; and their rings [were] full of eyes round about them four; they were all directed by perfect wis19 dom and foresight. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were 20 lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither [was their] spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them for the spirit of the living creatures [was] in the 21 wheels. When those went, [these] went; and when those stood, [these] stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature [was] in the wheels; they were all subordinate to the first cause, the same principle of understandVOL. VI.
ing animated them; and this is designed to intimate the alacrity with which all the instruments of Providence carry on its de22 signs. And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads
of the living creature [was] as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above; it was so bright as 23 to dazzle the eye. And under the firmament [were] their
wings straight, the one toward the other every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which cov24 ered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host; or, the sound of their speech was as the sound of an host when they stood, they let down their wings, hearkening and 25 waiting for the word of command. And there was a voice from the firmament, that [was] over their heads, when they stood, [and] had let down their wings.
And above the firmament that [was] over their heads [was] the likeness of a throne, of which these angels were the supporters, as the appearance of a sapphire stone and upon the likeness of the throne [was] the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it; Christ, the representative of the invisible God, as the Shekinah or representation of the divine glory in the 27 temple, and higher than the angels. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about, a bright 28 golden flame. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so [was] the appearance of the brightness round about; like a rainbow, to represent God's dealing with his people in a covenant way, and his faithfulness to his promises. This [was] the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD; it was only the appearance of the likeness of God's glory; which is added, to prevent our entertaining unworthy conceptions of it, as if there in reality were any such shapes and form. And when I saw [it,] I fell upon my face, quite overcome with the splendor, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
E may here reflect how little the happiness of man Ezekiel was now among captives in Babylon; but there God visited him with this glorious vision. The godly may be involved in the same calamity as others; the difference between them and the ungodly is not in events, but in the frame and temper of their
spirits. Thus when we are at a distance from our friends, or in any disagreeable circumstances, we may have access to the throne of grace, and there God can visit us with manifestations of his favour. Let it be our care to secure his love and friendship, then we may be easy and happy any where.
2. What awful and glorious thoughts of God, should this grand representation excite in our minds. Undoubtedly it was designed to impress the prophet's heart with an holy reverence of God. Here we see his glorious attendants, his power over all creatures, his majesty and splendor, in the heavens; his providence managing the affairs of the world; his vast, yet harmonious designs; and Christ sitting upon the throne, directing and superintending all. We should dwell especially on the leading truth here suggested, that all things are under the conduct of a wise, overruling Providence. Its designs may be deep and wonderful; but are all wise and good. Let us reverence this glorious Being, trust in him, and wait for the clearing up of the mysteries of Providence, till mortality be swallowed up of life.
3. Let us learn to imitate the holy angels in their principles, and the manner in which they serve God. This vision represents to us their attention, simplicity, prudence, dexterity, activity, unanimity, dispatch, and perseverance, in executing the divine commands. They make no mistakes, mind no diversions, but are always intent, cheerful, speedy and unwearied. These are the glorious examples we are to pursue. Have we not need to pray, that God's will may be done by us and others on earth, as it is done in heaven; and long for that day, when we shall be like the angels of God in heaven? In the mean time,
4. Let it be our concern and ambition to secure an interest in him as our covenant God and father in Christ. The rainbow about the throne speaks comfort to us, amidst all the splendor and majesty which adorn it. Without this, the glory would only dazzle and confound us. Let us rejoice in God, as our covenant God; that Jesus our head and saviour presides over the affairs of the church and the world; that in him all the promises are Yea and Amen. May we be interested in him, whose mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, and whose truth endureth through, out all generations.
CHAP. II. and CHAP. III. 1-15.
The prophet, having been overwhelmed with the glorious vision in the preceding chapter, is here strengthened and comforted; he is then commissioned to his office, and encouraged to be faithful, though he must be the messenger of unpleasing tidings.
ND he said unto me, Son of man,* stand upon thy feet, put thyself in a posture of attention, and I will 2 speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me; being overpowered by the vision, he could not rise without help, as was the case with Daniel and St. John. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man. I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that have rebelled against me : they and their fathers have transgressed against me, [even] 4 unto this very day. For [they are] impudent children and stiff hearted; or, although they be of an hardened countenance and a firm heart; though they have cast off all shame, and grown worse and worse, I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; thou shalt 5 speak in my name, and produce my authority. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they [are] a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them; the wicked shall know it by the fulfil ment of my threatenings, and the righteous by the performance of my promises.
And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns [be] with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions; though thou exposest thyself to injurious and malignant treatment: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house; who, though they cannot persecute thee in other ways while they are captives in Babylon, will do it by 7 angry and spiteful words and looks. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear: for they [are] most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house; do not refuse to go, be not backward to deliver the most disagreeable messages: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee; that is, receivé my instructions, commit them to memory; meditate upon, and digest them.
And when I looked, behold, an hand [was] sent unto me; 10 and, lo, a roll of a book [was] therein; And he spread it be
Some suppose this was an honourable title; others think it a diminutive one, and that there was something in Ezekiel's circumstances which might render it proper.
and it [was] written within and without; a parchment roll, written on both sides: and [there was] written therein lamentations, and mourning, and wo; terrible judg ments on the people for their sins, and no mercy to the Jews of that generation.
1 CHAP. III. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house 2 of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat 3 that roll; I readily complied with God's command. And he
said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat [it ;] and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness; it was a pleasure to be called and employed as a prophet of God, to converse with him, and see the visions of the Most High; though the word was bitter, considering the opposition it met with, and the sad consequences of their despising the message.
4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the 5 house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. For
thou [art] not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, that would have been an additional burden, 6 [but] to the house of Israel; Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee; thou wouldst not have found equal obstinacy among them. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel [are] impudent, or, of a firm forehead, 8 and hard hearted. Behold, I have made thy face strong
against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their fore9 heads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house; I have given thee cour10 age in proportion to their obstinacy and impudence. Moreover
he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. 11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children
of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they 12 will forbear. Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, [saying,] Blessed [be] the glory of the LORD from his place; from heaven, to which the vision was returning; or, by us his ministering spirits, who are now in 13 the place where his glory dwelleth. [I heard] also the noise
of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of 14 a great rushing. So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; with a variety of sentiments; my heart was full of fear about the