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Lord, I find that Ezekiel in his prophecies is styled ninety times and more by his appellation, Son of Man, and surely not once oftener than there was need for.... Amongst other revelations it was needful to reveal him to himself, Son of Man, lest seeing many visions might have made him blind with spiritual pride. Lord as thou increasest Thy graces in me, and favours on me, so with them daily increase in my soul the monitors and remembrances of my mortality.
References. II. 1. J. Millar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xli. 1892, p. 326. S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Norwood, p. 78. J. Coats Shanks, God Within Us, p. 109. II. 1, 2. W. W. Battershall, Interpretations of Life and Religion, p. 113. II. 2. G. Matheson, Voices of the Spirit, p. 78.
As I understand the Prophets, a theological revelation is the alpha and omega of their power. 'Thus saith the Lord' is not only the formula under which they speak, but the keynote of their convictions. It is because they believe, and only because they believe, that they can announce the true will of God, that they hope to be able to elevate the true nature of man. The ceremonialism and formalism which the Prophets assailed were rooted in the oblivion of theology, in the loss of that very revelation of himself by God of which from the earliest times we have a continuous series of records in the Old Testament.
R. H. Hutton in The Spectator (1886).
The visible constitution and course of nature, the moral law written in our hearts, the positive institution of religion, and even any memorial of it... are all witnesses, for the most part unregarded witnesses, in behalf of God to mankind. They inform us of His being and providence, and of the particular dispensation of religion which we are under; and continually remind us of them. And they are equally witnesses of these things, whether we regard them or not Then after a declaration that Ezekiel should be sent with a Divine message to the children of Israel, it is added, and they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, yet shall know that there hath been a Prophet among them.
The highest truth the wise man sees he will fearlessly utter, knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at, well if not, then well also, though not so well.
The proper time to speak truth is just so soon as we know it, for it always appears at its own appointed hour, and we have not the power of speaking premature truths.
No river would be navigable were its velocity not checked by friction; and the friction increases as the stream proceeds, until the flow is thus made the easy thoroughfare of exchange. One man may be sure of a truth, but before all men can accept it as truth from his ipse dixit , many men must resist and oppose it.
E. B. Lytton, Caxtoniana (XIII.).
Compare the saying of Hobbes that he and terror were born twins.
It is an everlasting duty, valid in our day as in that, the duty of being brave. Valour is still value. The first duty for a man is still that of subduing Fear. We must get rid of Fear: we cannot act at all till then.... A man shall and must be valiant; he must march forward, and quit himself like a man trusting imperturbably in the appointment and choice of the upper Powers; and on the whole, not fear at all. Now and always, the completeness of his victory over Fear will determine how much of a man he is.
Carlyle, Heroes, 1.
Hazlitt, in defining the true partisan, observes that 'his anxiety for truth and justice leaves him in no fear for himself, and the sincerity of his motives makes him regardless of censure or obloquy. His profession of hearty devotion to freedom was not an ebullition called forth by the sunshine of prosperity, a lure for popularity and public favour; and when these desert it, he still maintains his post with his integrity.'
What have I gained that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove, or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate; that I do not tremble as before the Eumenides, or the Catholic Purgatory, or the Calvinistic Judgment-Day if I quake at opinion, the public opinion, as we call it; or at the threat of assault, or contumely, or bad neighbours, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the rumour of revolution, or of murder? If I quake, what matters it what I quake at?
Seeke the goode of other Men, but be not in bondage to their Faces and Fancies; for that is but Facilitie or Softnesse; which taketh an honest minde Prisoner.
When the master of the horse rides abroad, many dogs in the village bark; but he pursues his journey all the same.
Carlyle, Latter-day Pamphlets, Iv.
References. II. 6. "Piain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. v. p. 259.
'To stir the blood I have no cunning art,' says Wordsworth. ' Ach die zärtlichen Herzen! ein Pfuscher vermag sie zu rühren !' says Goethe. Nor do such authors make it their study to say what the public will like to hear. ' Ihr sollt was lernen I meant to teach you something,' says Goethe again. They deal not in popular falsehoods, but in unpopular truths. They are attracted by topics which the popular writer instinctively avoids, saying, Oh! the public will never attend to that! and indeed the public often receive their gifts but sullenly.... To sustain such writers in their arduous course they must have religion... Religion alone, some absorbing contemplation, some spiritual object more necessary than livelihood, more precious than fame preserves originality and thus feeds literature. It alone can give an author that happy arrogance of Wordsworth.
Professor J. R. Seeley.
'Whoever,' said Proudhon, 'puts his hand upon me, in order to govern me, is a usurper, a tyrant, and I declare myself his enemy.'
Reference. II. 8-10. A. Whyte, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliii. 1893, p. 403.
'I am fully persuaded,' wrote Samuel Rutherford in 1636, 'that Scotland shall eat Ezekiel's book, that is written within and without, lamentations, and mourning, and woe. But the saints shall get a drink of the well that goeth through the streets of the New Jerusalem, to put it down.'
Reference. II. 9, 10. G. F. De Teissier, Plain Preaching to Poor People (10th Series), p. 95.
In the fifth chapter of the Apologia Newman uses this verse as follows: 'If I looked into a mirror, and did not see my face, I should have the sort of feeling which actually comes upon me when I look into this living busy world, and see no reflection of its Creator. This is, to me, one of those great difficulties of this absolute primary truth, to which I have referred just now. Were it not for this voice, speaking so clearly in my conscience and my heart, I should be an atheist, or a pantheist, or a polytheist when I looked into the world. I am speaking for myself only: and I am far from denying the real force of the arguments in proof of a God, drawn from the general facts of human society and the course of history, but these do not warm me or enlighten me; they do not take away the winter of my desolation, or make the buds unfold and the leaves grow within me, and my moral being rejoice The sight of the world is nothing else than the Prophet's scroll, full of "lamentations, and mourning, and woe".'
In Rob Roy Sir Walter Scott uses this of the cathedral churchyard in Glasgow. 'The broad flat monumental stones are placed so close to each other, that the precincts appear to be flagged with them, and, though roofed only by the heavens, resemble the floor of one of our old English churches, where the pavement is covered with sepulchral inscriptions. The contents of these sad records of mortality, the vain sorrows which they preserve, the stern lesson which they teach of the nothingness of humanity, the extent of ground which they so closely cover, and their uniform and melancholy tenor reminded me of the roll of the Prophet, which was "written within and without, and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe ".'
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26