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the nation of the Jews, published with awful solemnity by God himself, in the following words : “ Hear, 0 hea. vens, and give ear, 0 earth, for the Lord hath spoken! I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation! a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children

that are corrupters. They have forsaken the Lord, they - have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they

have gone away backward.” Accordingly the prophet, in bespeaking their attention to the message he was about to deliver, addressed them, in terms of severe reproach, (verse 10.) “ Hear the words of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.” And the lamentation he utters, (verse 21.) shows with what justice and propriety those titles of ignominy were applied to them. “ How is the faithful city become an barlot! It was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water. Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards."

Their boldness and impadence in sinning are particularly taken notice of, as high agravations of their guilt, (chap. iii. verses 8, 9.) “ The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they hide it not. Their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eye of his glory.” Neither was this accusation limited to the men in that age; for, (ver. 16.) even the daughters of Zion are represented as “haughty, walking with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they went,” under the cumbersome load of tinkling or,

naments, chains and bracelets, and the many other superfluous articles of dress, of which a catalogue is left on record from the 18th verse downward, till, at the 24th verse, the fantastic inventory is closed with that humilia. ting doom: “ It shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell, there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and burning instead of beauty.”

This leads me to mention another circumstance, by which the day referred to in my text is distinguished. It was a day of sore rebuke, as well as of abounding iniquity. “ Look away from me,” said the prophet, ver. 4. of this chapter, “ I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people ; for it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity, by the Lord God of Hosts in the valley of vision."

Such was the day in which the Lord God of Hosts did call to weeping and mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth, i. e, to the deepest bumilia. tion on account of their sins, to the most unfeigned repentance, and amendment of life. Tbat this is the true import of the call, appears from a similar exhortation, (Joel ii. 12.) wbere, after the Lord had given command. ment to blow the trumpet in Zion, and to sound an alarm in his holy mountain, that all the inhabitants of the land might tremble in the prospect of that day of darkness and gloominess, which was soon to be spread over them; he addresses them in these words: “ Turn ye even to me with all your heart, with weeping and with mourning, and rent your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord

" In every age, and in every climate, weeping and mourning are the natural expressions of inward sorrow.

your God.

In the eastern countries, and especially among the Jews, when grief rose to a great beight, tears of lamentations were usually accompanied with rending their clothes, plucking out their hair, and covering their bodies with sackcloth. And though these outward signs are only the trappings of wo, which are no further acceptable than as they truly express the sorrow and contrition of the heart, yet, in the case before us, they are expressly required of that impudent and hard-hearted people, that as their tongue and their doings had been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory, so their shame and sor. row might be proclaimed as openly as their sin, and their penitent return to God might be no less apparent than their proud and insolent revolt had been.

Having made these remarks upon the import of the call, and the state of the Jews in the day it was published to them, let me now,

II. Lead forward your attention to the account that is given us of the reception it met with, (ver. 13.) “And behold !" It is introduced, you see, with a note—wbat sball I call it ?- Whether doth it bespeak our admi. ration or astonishment? The object must surely be won. derful, either for beauty or deformity, to which the great God himself demands our attention with such solemnity.

Say then, my brethren, were you not already acquainted with what follows, would you not expect to see a multitude of humble penitents, prostrate on the ground, and covered with sackcloth, while, with weeping and mourning, they say one to another, in the language of genuine repentance, “ Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." But what do we really see ? Be astonisbed, 0 ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid. Instead of mourving and weeping, be

hold joy and gladness; instead of baldness and girding with sackcloth, behold every kind of riotous excess, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drink. ing wine.

There is no room to suppose that they had given no attention to the message delivered by the prophet. It would rather appear that they had attended to it with accuracy, nay, studied its meaning, on purpose to coun. teract it; for a contrast so minutely exact, a scheme of contradiction so completely adjusted, could hardly have been stumbled upon by mere accident. And indeed the latter part of the verse puts this beyond all doubt. “ Let us eat and drink,” said they, "for to-morrow we shall die."

We are not to imagine that these words were spoken seriously by one of those presumptuous and boasting rebels. The most daring amongst them must have been conscious, that the aspect of the king of terrors, at their most sumptuous entertainments, would leave them no appetite for flesh or wine. They meant it as a scoff, a witty saying, for turning into ridicule the warning they had received, but which they did not believe. The prophet hath been telling us of desolating judgments just at hand, and with the same breath he calls us to weeping, and mourning, and girding with sackcloth. How absurd, how unreasonably cruel is the demand! Will not the evil day come soon enough, though we should not anticipate the sorrows of it, by afflicting ourselves unnecessarily before its arrival? Nay, rather, if life is to be cut short, let us make the most of it while it lasts. If we must die to-morrow, let us eat and drink, and be merry to-day, and crowd into the few scanty hours that remain as much festivity and pleasure as we can.

Surely it is not needful that I should lengthen out

this picture of deformity in all its dimensions. Its most distinguishing features are abundantly obvious; and I am confident, that the few sketches I have given you, will suffice to render the generation it represents, the objects of contempt and abhorrence to all; those very persons not excepted, who, in the portrait drawn for them, may perhaps discover their own true likeness. For it is common enough to condemn with just, though partial severity, the same faults in others which we easily for. give, nay cherish in ourselves. At any rate, I suppose none of us will be surprised to hear the alarming denun. ciation of wrath against those perverse and obstinate transgressors; which is the

III. Particular contained in my text, (ver. 14.) “ It was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts.”

We meet with another threatening of the same import, (Ezek. xxiv. 13.) “ Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. I the Lord have spoken it, and it shall come to pass, and I will do it. I will not go back, nei. ther will I spare, neither will I repent, saith the Lord God."

These wicked men had not only resisted the means of conviction, but they had perverted those means and extracted poison from the medicine intended for their care. They drew iniquity with cords of vanity, and sinned as it were with a cart rope. By their scoffing reply to the call that was given them, in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, they said in effect, with insolent contempt and proud defiance, “Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the

VOL, II.

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