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WHY WILL YE DIE?
‘Why will ye die?’
I. You are in danger of death—the second death—eternal death. You deserve death—are condemned to die.
II. You need not die unless you will, unless you wish to die.—Your sin, which deserves death, is your own wilful deed, and from the death to which you are exposed there is a way of escape, if you will—if you are willing to take it. It is not that God wills—but that you will—that you die.
III. That you should choose to die rather than to live is most unaccountable.— Why will ye die? Can any one give a good reason why? (1) Have you no regard for your own best interests? ‘He that is cruel to his own house is like the ostrich that hides her eggs in the sand, and considers not that the foot of the traveller may crush them’; but he that is cruel to his own soul, what is he like? and unto what shall I resemble him? All nature has no imagery horrible enough to represent the murderer of his own soul. (2) Do ye ‘thus requite the lovingkindness of the Lord, O foolish people and unwise’? After all that God has done that ye might have life, why will ye reject His counsel, and refuse the best and greatest gift of everlasting love? (3) Or do you not believe that these things are so? that sin is destruction? that iniquity will be your ruin? or that there is a Saviour provided, and that to refuse Him is to choose death?
HEARERS, BUT NOT DOERS
‘And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not,’ etc.
These are the words of God to the prophet Ezekiel, words in which He describes the effect of the prophet’s preaching upon the children of His people. Ezekiel was the great sensation of the day; men thought it must be the proper thing to go and hear him, to listen with rapt attention to the impetuous torrent of his words, and when they went away to discuss his message in the gates or on the housetops. But their heart was not touched, nor was their life affected; it was their imagination that was fascinated, and their understanding that was pleased.
I. This state of things is exactly reproduced in the case of every popular preacher.—Men whose lives are cruel or impure—whose hearts are covetous—crowd to hear the preacher of the day, because his words are sweet, because his eloquence is full of melody, because they feel themselves for the moment captivated—carried out of, lifted above themselves.
II. Ezekiel in his popularity is a type, not only of all lesser preachers, but emphatically of Him Who is the great Prophet and Preacher of the world, the Master of all ages, the Incarnate Word of God.—A very lovely song it is which the Saviour sings; no poet, no prophet ever sang or ever dreamed, or even ever strove (and striving failed) to express anything half so sweet, so full, so soul-subduing as the Gospel of the Grace of God. And He that sings it hath a very pleasant voice, for sweeter is the voice of Christ than the voice of any angel or archangel, and of any of the heavenly choirs, because it is a Brother’s voice, and we can feel the sympathy, we can understand the finest, softest shades of meaning which are woven through the melody. Therefore does the world love to listen to His message of salvation, to call Him ‘Great Master,’ to listen to His words with pleased attention. They hear His words, but do them not. Never shall His voice sound so pleasant, never His song so lovely, as when He shall lead His own to the eternal bowers, and those who are not His shall be shut out for ever. Yet this last unspeakable woe must be our portion if the Gospel be to us but as a very lovely song; if our attitude towards Christ be one of admiration, not of imitation; if we hear His words but do them not.
—Canon R. Winterbotham.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent