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the world, dishonest in their dealings, false to their word, proud, and illnatured, they cause religion to be evil spoken of. Let us therefore be tender of the honour of God and religion; and behave so that we may adorn the doctrine of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. God's reasons for mercy are drawn from himself. It is a remarkable expression, v. 21. I had pity for my holy name; not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord. The Jews were apt to be confident in their great privileges; therefore so much is said to humble them. It is a sin which easily besets even the best of men, to over rate their own virtues and merit. But God has no need of us; when we have dɔne all, we are unprofitable servants. His mercy is free; and the deepest humility becomes us. It is the design of his gospel to hide pride from man: to lead us to the merits of Christ, and to seek acceptance through him: never boasting of ourselves, but glorying only in the Lord.
3. Let us see and own the hand of God in all the supplies and comforts of life. He multiplieth men and beasts, and causeth the earth to yield its increase. There is a remarkable expression to this purpose in v. 29. I will call for the corn. Plenty comes at God's call; and he can as easily take it away. We need often to be reminded of his universal providence; that we may be thankful for his bounty; and whether we eat, or drink, or whatsoever we do, all shall be done to the glory of God.
4. We see the necessity of conversion, in order to be holy and happy. It is not sufficient that men leave off some vices, and practise some virtues; and that their external behaviour be sober and regular; they must have a new heart; an entire change, a religious principle within; a heart of flesh; tender, humble, tractable to the commands, and submissive to the will of God. Without this, they will never walk in his statutes, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. We should therefore examine ourselves, whether such a change has passed in us; and earnestly pray that God would create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us.
5. God's goodness and grace to us should fill us with godly sorrow and shame. The nature of true repentance is here pointed out; it arises from a remembrance of sin; and consists in lothing ourselves, and in being grieved and displeased at our sinful conduct. The more we see of God's purity, and the more we experience of his mercy, the more reason we have to be humbled before him. Let the goodness of God then lead us to such repentance, and preserve us from returning a gain to folly.
6. God will be sought unto for the mercies which he hath promised. His promises are designed to quicken, not to supersede our prayers and endeavours. He commands us to seek him, and it is fit that we should; as it is giving him glory by our faith
in his promises, acknowledging our own unworthiness, and is a means of bringing our minds to a proper frame to receive his favours. Let us then, while we believe his promises, continue in prayer for the accomplishment of them, and watch thereunto with all perseverance.
This chapter treats of the same subject, in a beautiful and significant vision of the resurrection of dry bones, and promises of the general restoration of the whole house of Israel, who shall enjoy both the land of Canaan, and the blessings of the gospel, under the Messiah.
HE hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, that is, in a vision or trance, and set me down in the midst of the valley which 2 [was] full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about and, behold, [there were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they were] very dry; as if some great battle had been fought there, and the bones were left unburied; which supposes the Jews to be in as hopeless a condition as such bones, 3 and as unlikely to be recovered. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest; if thou art pleased to command them, they may. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say 5 unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus
saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause 6 breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and 7 ye shall know that I [am] the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, or rattling noise, like that of bones rushing together, and the bones came together bone to his bone, that is, to its proper place in the body to which it belonged; for the bones of the human body are so nicely fitted, that those of one body will not suit another. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them 9 above but [there was] no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, or breath, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live; or, breathe the vital principle that unites 10 soul and body. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and
the breath came into them, and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army; in a posture of defence, 11 and ready for service. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts; referring to their present despairing condition, they say, We are banished for ever from one another and our land. 12 Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel; you shall have liberty, ability, and inclination to return. This is illustrated by Rom. xi. 15. where the 13 apostle speaks of their return as life from the dead. And ye
shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, a spirit of repentance, piety, and zeal, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it,] and performed [it,] saith the LORD.
The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions; that is, Benjamin and others that returned with him: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, the head of the ten tribes, and [for] all the 17 house of Israel his companions: And join them one to an
other into one stick, put them end to end ; and they shall, in a 18 miraculous manner, become one in thine hand. And when the
children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt 19 thou not show us what thou [meanest] by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand; they shall be united in one body, and also 20 in judgment and affection and religious disposition. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, 22 and bring them into their own land :* And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; they shall no longer be separate kingdoms, nor
• This intimates that the ten tribes are still in being, and shall be recovered at last,
23 have separate interests: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them so shall they be my people, and I will be their God; they shall be delivered from places of temptation, and live 24 in perfect harmony. And David my servant [shall be] king
over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do 25 them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, [even] they and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David [shall be] their prince for ever; they shall never aposta26 tize, as a nation, any more. Moreover I will make a covenant
of peace with them, that is, the gospel covenant, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them 27 for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, 28 I will be their God, and they shall be my people.* And the
heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore ; that I am reconciled to them, and have again owned them as my people.
HIS first vision should comfort us when religion is at the lowest ebb, and circumstances are most discouraging. What was more unlikely than a resurrection of dry bones? and what a more evident proof of a divine power? By that therefore God would represent the recovery of Israel; and thus can he raise dead souls to life. Ministers only prophesy to them; God must command the spirit of life to enter into them. He can raise his own cause, when sunk very low, when human wisdom, piety, and zeal are nonplussed; if he exerts his own power, the most wonderful effects will be produced. When there seems to be nothing but spiritual death upon his churches, he can revive them; for all things are of God. The consideration of this should support our faith and hope; and animate our prayers that he would revive his work in the midst of the years.
2. It is very happy when peace and union are restored between those who have been at variance. We have here a beautiful description of the union of Israel and Judah. There shall be no
This is applied by the apostle to the christian church, to the establishment of christian worship in it, and the tokens of the divine protease and favour, 2 Cor. vi. 16.
clashing distinction or separation between them. Their common union to Christ their king, shall heal all their differences. It is happy when clashing and envying between nations, churches, brethren or neighbours, cease; when they are joined in affection, if not in judgment. God is to be sought unto by prayer for so desirable an event; and every one should contribute his part to it, by laying aside envy, malice, wrath, evil speaking, and evil surmising; passing by transgressions, and yielding for peace sake: and when this effect is produced, the hand of God is to be thankfully acknowledged in it. For, behold! how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity: and blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
The sublime prophecy contained in this and the following chapter, concerning Israel's victory over Gog and Magog, relates to a period still very distant, and is therefore very obscure. It begins with representing a prodigious armament of many nations com. bined together under the conduct of Gog, (supposed, with great probability, to mean the Turks, who originally sprung from the Tartars, a race of Scythians, who had their origin from Magog the son of Japheth,) all together attacking the Jews, after having been for some time resettled in their land consequent to their return from the general dispersion. These enemies are represented as making themselves sure of the spoil, and mercantile nations as already come to their camp to purchase it, (14.) In this critical juncture, when the cloud is ready to burst over Israel, God appears to execute, by terrible judgments, the vengeance threatened against these enemies of his people. The prophet, in terms borrowed from the human passions, describes with awful emphasis, his fury, as coming up to his face, and the effects of it as 80 dreadful, as to make all the animate and animate creation tremble, and even the whole frame of nature to be convulsed with terror.*
1 ND the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy a3 gainst him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and 4 Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, as a fisherman hooks a fish, and I will bring thee forth,
• Dr. Smith.