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entire city of the old Jerusalem, and the new Jerusalem, here spoken of, to be more spacious than all the land of Canaan, the whole vision of this prophecy must be figurative-it cannot, by any possibility, be understood literally.
Seven chapters having been occupied in the description of the intended spiritual temple, in the eighth (which is the 47th chapter of Ezekiel) we are introduced to a remarkable adjunct of the temple read from 1st verse to 12th verse. This strange, abundant, and enriching stream of waters is thus described in the text: "These waters issue out towards the East country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea-brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed."
The goodness of God and the riches of his grace, are here pourtrayed; however men may differ in the interpretation of the prophecy, all will agree that there is designated here a 'mighty outgoing of blessing." That we may be enabled to attain profit in our consideration of the subject, let us enquire
1. Whence do those blessings flow.
3. Our duty in acknowledging and cherishing them.
I. FROM WHENCE DO THESE BLESSINGS FLOW?
Bishop Ken's hymn answers the
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" "Every good and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights!" Man is slow to perceive-slow to acknowledge this; he may be attentive to the beautiful exterior of the church or temple, or to the har
mony of the internal arrangements of the the church-he may say how fair-how splendid how beautiful-how spacious! would we be right to day, if we give our attention merely to the edifice, and overlook the great Indweller? Shall we in compunction hereafter say, Surely the Lord was there, and I knew it not? Yea, rather, let us now say, "the Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him!" If you make this mistake (a fearful mistake in the present day), prizing the husk above the kernel-attending to details, and losing sight of principles flattered by novelty, and dazzled by architectural beauty, you will be as Ezekiel; and Ezekiel is a warning to the preacher especially, for you read in the 40th chapter, 4th verse, that Ezekiel was brought to see, and know, that he might teach others—“ declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel." In the next verse, save one, we read, that Ezekiel was brought to the gate, or door, of the temple, and being engaged in surveying what was beautiful and architecturally grand, even while the threshold was measured, he did not see what was at the threshold at his very feet, even that which was of more importance than the temple itself: refer now to the 47th chapter 1st verse, Afterward he brought me AGAIN unto the door of the house, and behold waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward." He might have passed the door repeatedly before, but it was not till now he perceived the tricklings of a little stream rising from the threshold of the temple; its origin, or source, was unknowncoming from the temple and rising from the ground, its origin was mysterious_its derivation was referable to God: such a
Spirit of God can do, and will do, when once permitted to go forth from a temple reared to the glory of God. By what a speaking lesson was Ezekiel taught? His heavenly guide led him forth along that fair, and growing, and mysterious stream (3rd verse) measuring as he went one thousand cubits; and then he and Ezekiel crossed the stream to the opposite side, at which time of crossing, the water only reached their ankles. In the 4th verse we read, the heavenly architect measured one thousand cubits more; they re-crossed the stream to the opposite bank, and now found that the waters had risen to the knees; another like measurement, and the river was crossed once more, at which time the rapidly encreasing waters had reached to the loins; once more there is a measurement one thousand cubits, when Ezekiel declares in the 5th verse, "it was a river I could not pass over, for the waters were risen-waters to swim in-a river that could not be passed over!"
Here is wisdom!-here is the type of a Gospel going forth over a wide world— a Gospel abounding-incomprehensible, and still developing deeper and deeper blessings! Here is wisdom and the type of a Gospel preached in the house of God-the Spirit accompanying it—the conversion of souls increasing the mani. festation of sanctification developing itself more and more through the surrounding lands. Here is wisdom! for thus does grace begin in the heart of the humble follower of the Lord at first scarcely felt-scarcely perceptible-then growing and filling the bosom ; the Spirit of adoption witnessing with his spirit that he is God's dear child-until, at length, his peace is as a river," and he is filled
stream was not connected with Solomon's temple it is true, a stream of water was turned into it to cleanse the sacrifices and purify the temple, but the stream which Ezekiel witnessed, was not flowing into the temple, but flowing from it. The stream was the Spirit of God vouchsafed to man through the atoning merits of Jesus. The Spirit of God dwells in the church, and goes forth from the church to the vallies and the mountains-to the mansions and cottages of the land: the Spirit of God went forth from Jerusalem as the infantine tricklings of a mountain spring, blessing man while yet man was scarce conscious of its existence :-how little is this well-spring of life noticed?— how few look upon a church in this beautiful light ?-the waters of God bubbling forth, rushing out at the door, and swelling and brightening over the moral landscape, till the whole city of God shouts for joy: and so it is a doleful consequence, when men notice not the existence of the spiritual blessing-they prize it not they know not its power— its out-goings-its blessings. To day we want Christ to be present in the temple we want the mysterious Spirit to arise and burst forth upon the landwe hope yet to go forth and trace it yea, it may be already traced here in the assembly of the people of God, some of whom, connected with this happy congregation, have already found Christ precious, and the Spirit precious to their souls! The well-spring of life which Ezekiel saw, sprang forth spontaneous and unimpeded in its course; but Ezekiel, and all who read this prophecy, were to be taught a lesson, namely, not to underrate the Spirit of God-nay, to set no bounds to their expectations of what the
with what the Apostle emphatically calls for meat, and the leaf thereof for me"all the fullness of God." dicine!" (compare Rev. xxii. 1, 2.) Here we have the passage of Isaiah (lxi. 3,) brought before us“ trees of righteousness, planting of the Lord." These are the worshipping, spiritual people of God: so are they described in the 1st Psalm, they shall be profitable
to all around-leaves and fruits will be
It was in the time of the greatest depression of the church, that Ezekiel was permitted to see this mystical river; it is now, in our church's greatest depression, that we are permitted to see the Spirit of God arising from places long neglected and unnoticed; what heart will refuse to see the hand of God, giving the "water of life freely?"—what heart will refuse to “drink and live for ever?" Surely they, who know and feel these things, are bound to give gladsome testimonyall who have drank
"Of Siloa's brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God."
unfading and abundant-the "leaves" representing their precious conversations
the "fruit" their good works—“ yea, thus shall the people be blessed who fear the Lord!"
All who hear such things may naturally desire to have a share in them, they must then be told whither proceed those waters, which go forth from the temple, and this we may learn by asking the question—
II. WHITHER DO THEY FLOW, AND TO WHAT END? The text says, " down into the desert and into the sea." The name
desert' was applied by the ancients not only to any place that was barren and solitary, but also wherever there was any great intervening space between one city and another, that they called desert.' By desert we understand those places which have no spiritual culture, no seed sown, and consequently no fruits appearwherever this is the case, there must be a spiritual famine, and however disastrous the literal famine may be regarded, yet, in the word of God, the spiritual famine is exhibited as one of the greatest visitations which can fall upon the sons of men-thus Amos viii. 11. "Behold the days come saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord!" this is a most awful state for any portion of the earth to be left in--there
It is a delightful duty to direct all to look to this heavenly fountain-it is delightful to lead forth our fellow-men, and to bid them trace its origin and its leadings to point to those who have made experiment of the bounty and lifegiving resources of God's streams of love, and who show forth the beauty of holiness in their lives; such persons are ever found desirous to approach and participate in the privileges of the Sanctuary-they abide close to the ordinances of God. The types of such faithful men were exhibited to Ezekiel; and you finding mention made of them in the 7th verse: "Behold at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other." And again, in the 12th verse, "And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed, it shall bring forth new fruit according to his month, be cause their waters they issued out of the Sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be
Satan must reign triumphant, there is the | and vilest-yea, every heart is capable of
"shadow of death!" every place that lacks Gospel and ministerial oversight faithfully administered, is a desert, each heart that knows not God is a desert; "things rank and gross in nature possess it merely:" the heart of man is a moral wilderness, a decaying city, a house toppling to ruin. Each man needs to be converted to be sanctified-the Spirit of God goes down to such a desert bringing life and health in its train; the Spirit of God does wonders in the desert heart, making the "wilderness to blossom as the rose; however barren, however unfruitful the heart may have been, in times past, yet when the healing waters from the fountain cleanse and refresh the heart, what a change takes place! what changes have taken place in the hearts of many individuals, the cold careless pharisaical protestant feels that something beyond mere profession is demanded the young man learns to trust not in youth, strength or beauty-the old man hastens to seek peace ere he go hence and be no more seen"—the proud become humble-the rich become poor in spirit—the fatherless feel protection and courage the sorrowful are made to rejoice, and the "widow's heart to sing for joy!"
being overcome by the Spirit of God, save and except that heart which resists all testimony-mocks at the doctrine of a Holy Spirit, and thereby commits the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost! The text illustrates the prevalency of the Holy Spirit when going forth not only to the desert,'—but even to the 'sea ;' now we are enabled to know what sea is here meant by the names mentioned in the 10th, Engedi and Eneglaim ; these were places, Engedi on the one side, and Eneglaim on the other of the dead sea. The dead sea occupied a space of some twenty-four miles long by six or seven miles broad- (it covered a space which might have included Belfast, Downpatrick, Saintfield and Killyleagh) and in fact four towns stood formerly where that awful sea now lifts its murky head; Deut. xxix. 23. tells us that the names of these four cities were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim: with Sodom we are apt to connect an idea of great crimes-yea, the most abominable offences. The causes which God points out as having led to his displeasure against Sodom, are sometimes overlooked under the idea which is attached to the fearful abominations of that place- Vide Ezekiel xvi. 49. "Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." So it was not only unmentionable offences that hastened destruction upon that devoted city, but the aggregate of offences common and prevalent in our day as in the days of Sodom. Great and universal were the sins of various shades which were visited with the fires of heaven, and over whose participators were shed the waters
It is the proclaiming to man his utter sinfulness, and asking why will you die? it is the pointing to Christ and him crucified, it is the call for penitential confession to God, it is the proclamation of mercy to all the most sinful and the most abandoned, that brings with it, through the Holy Spirit, wonderful results. Such are its effects when its waters flow upon the amiable, the moral, the careless and the gay; but still more, as the "blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin," so the Spirit of God goes forth to the lowest
of desolation and death-yet, to sins such as these, go forth the healing waters of the Spirit of God-they go to this 'desert they go even to this sea'-the dead sea-they have power to heal sin and guilt such as the dead sea had buried beneath its waters-and what does this propound to men? that the Spirit of God has power to visit the harlot, the drunkard, the blasphemer, the murderersuch was the case in Paul's time, when healing waters visited the believing people of Corinth-see what vile characters were some of them, as noted by Paul, 1 Cor. vi. 11. " and such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
That the Gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" is shewn in this chapter from whence the text is taken, for in the mysterious language of the 9th verse it is stated, "and it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live, and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed, and every thing shall live whither the river cometh!" "all who hear and believe shall live—all who welcome the refreshing streams shall drink and live for ever."
Who then has excuse? the desert heart want sthe Spirit the dead heart wants the Spirit" Unless we be born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of God"—let them who have tasted the "waters of life
freely" pray for those who are yet in the desert and dead-sea state! and may God pour his refreshing streams upon us, and may all belonging to us live in the refreshing influence of God's stream, and ever lie
down beside the still waters!
But there is a fearful declaration made in the 11th verse, mention is made of 'miry and marshy" places these it is said "shall not be healed, they shall be given to salt," by these "miry, marshy places" we understand stagnant soulsobdurate, hardened souls-souls that have trifled with gospel appeals that have
'quenched the Spirit"-that have had a "reprobate mind" continued upon them; such are described in Proverbs 1. 25. "because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel and would none of my reproof, I will also laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh." &c. &c. Dear brethren! pray that this day be not added to former days when convictions were silenced, and God provoked! what an awful idea is it, to think that this daythis hour-this minute may be the last occasion when the Spirit of God will ever strive more— -lift up the heart in prayer, and agonize in entreaty—
"Withdraw not thou thy help,
Nor cast me from thy sight;
III. OUR DUTY IN ACKNOWLEDGING
AND CHERISHING THESE HOLY WATERS.
They flow in order to convey light, life, and immortality! he that shall receive of these waters shall never thirst, these are
the "living waters" spoken of by Jesus, John iv. 10. Those upon whom they have their eyes enlightened, their hearts softened and subdued, their views changed and a very foretaste of heaven is often their portion: the social duties of life are all improved and exalted by the visitations of God's Holy Spirit—where that Spirit pours its healing waters, there such a building as this is greatly valued; it stands up before the eye as God's own