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Verses 1-49

Ezekiel 20:16

Here enters the fatal circumstance of Idolatry, that, in the era of the Prophets, no man's mind is any longer honestly filled with his Idol or Symbol. Before the Prophet can arise who, seeing through it, knows it to be mere wood, many men must have begun dimly to doubt that it was little more. Condemnable Idolatry is insincere idolatry.... It is equivalent to what we call Formalism, and Worship of Formulas, in these days of ours. No more immoral act can be done by a human creature; for it is the beginning of all immorality, or rather it is the impossibility henceforth of any morality whatsoever; the innermost moral soul is paralyzed thereby, cast into fatal magnetic sleep!

Carlyle, Heroes, IV.

Ezekiel 20:32

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Emerson on Self-Reliance.

We have been, in spite of momentary declensions, on a flood-tide of high profits and a roaring trade, and there is nothing like a roaring trade for engendering latitudinarians.

Morley, Compromise, pp. 34, 35.

References. XX. 32. H. Montagu Butler, Harrow School Sermons (2nd Series), p. 276. XX. 32, 38. C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 184. XX. 34-38. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1840.

Ezekiel 20:35-36

It is good for any man to be alone with nature and himself, or with a friend who knows when silence is more sociable than talk.

In the wilderness alone,

There where nature worships God.

It is well to be in places where man is little and God is great where what he sees all around him has the same look as it had a thousand years ago, and will have the same, in all likelihood, when he has been a thousand years in his grave. It abates and rectifies a man, if he is worth the process. It is not favourable to religious feeling to hear only of the actions and interference of man, and to behold nothing but what human ingenuity has completed. There is an image of God's greatness impressed upon the outward face of nature fitted to make us all pious, and to breathe into our hearts a purifying and salutary fear. In cities everything is man, and man alone. He seems to move and govern all, and be the Providence of cities... all is human policy, human foresight, human power; nothing reminds us of invisible dominion and concealed omnipotence it is all earth and no heaven. One cure of this is prayer and the solitary place. As the body, harassed with the noxious air of cities, seeks relief in the freedom and the purity of the fields and hills, so the mind, wearied by commerce with man, resumes its vigour in solitude, and repairs its dignity.

Sydney Smith.

References. XX. 38. Henry Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii. p. 120. XX. 41. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 688.

Ezekiel 20:43

Sorrow for loss brought in her train sorrow for wrong a sister more solemn still, and with a deeper blessing in the voice of her loving farewell. It is a great mistake to suppose that sorrow is a part of repentance. It is far too good a grace to come so easily. A man may repent, that is, think better of it and change his way, and be very much of a Pharisee I do not say a hypocrite for a long time after: it needs a saint to be sorrowful. Yet repentance is generally the road to this sorrow.

George Macdonald, David Elginbrod, part II. chap. xxiii.

Reference. XX. 44. C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 463.

Ezekiel 20:49

The inferior nature (in Jewish belief) of all such forms of inspiration is curiously illustrated by the complaint of Ezekiel, so difficult for one with Christian associations to appreciate, 'Ah Lord, they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?' as though this were a reproach. It is difficult for those who have been brought up with Christian associations to accept a scale which relegates to a lower level the method of the Parables; yet a distrust of metaphor in dealing with spiritual realities is a feeling justified by all but its highest exercise, and even there exhibited at times as a concession to human weakness and infirmity.

Miss Wedgwood.

References. XX. 49. Hugh Black, University Sermons, p. 99. J. Fraser, Parochial and Other Sermons, p. 239. W. C. Magee, The Gospel and the Age, p. 139. H. Montagu Butler, Harrow School Sermons, p. 377. Thomas Chalmers, Sermons Preached in the Tron Church, Glasgow, p. 65. E. W. Attwood, Sermons for Clergy and Laity, p. 14.

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