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I. In the very Book in which humility and lowliness of mind are constantly inculcated; in which we are always meeting with injunctions to bend and bow, if we would be divinely visited; here are instances of men summoned to get up from the dust of conscious littleness and unworthiness, that they might be divinely spoken with; of men, prone upon their faces in the presence of God, who were requested to place themselves upon their feet before He could say anything to them, or make any use of them. Yet we may be quite sure that their prior prostration was equally indispensable. Once and again Ezekiel fell upon his face, and if he had not so fallen he would never have accomplished what he did. But it is quite true, on the other hand, that no one ever does any great thing in the service of truth and humanity, unless he has superb confidence in himself unless he can feel that he is divinely called and qualified. If he be not self-satisfied and self-reliant, he will be no servant of the Lord no polished shaft in His quiver. This is what we may find for ourselves in the angel's address to the prophet of Chebar the importance of self-respect; an importance which is frequently implied, and much recognised in the Scriptures.
II. When are we not self-respecting? (1) He is not for one who craves and courts the approbation of others, and sets himself to gain it; who wants it, wants it to comfort and uphold him, who can be strong and happy enough while others are praising or smiling on him, but when they are not waxes feeble and melancholy. (2) Again, he is wanting in self-reverence, who gives himself at all to imitate another, who, in any work which may be laid upon him, tries to repeat the greatness of another, to copy his distinctions rather than to evoke and cultivate his own, to strain after his dimensions, rather than to be as perfect as he can within his own. (3) He is not self-respecting who hesitates at all to go with his convictions, who fears to trust and follow the light within him, when the many are moving in the opposite direction. (4) Beware of losing self-respect through living dramatically with a daily appearance put on which is not true to the reality with the frequent assumption before spectators of that which does not belong to you. Beware of losing it, especially, through for ever failing to obey your higher promptings, and for ever regretting and bemoaning the future, while never seriously endeavouring to improve.
S. A. Tipple, Sunday Mornings at Upper Norwood, p. 178.
When God raised Ezekiel and set him on his feet before He spoke to him, was it not a declaration of the truth that man might lose the words of God because of a low and grovelling estimate of himself, as well as because of a conceited one? The best understanding of God could come to man only when man was upright and self-reverent in his privilege as the child of God.
I. There is much today of thoughtless and foolish depreciation of man and his conditions. I want to denounce this as the very spirit of ignorance, shutting men's ears hopelessly against the hearing of all the highest truths. In large circles of life, there is an habitual disparagement of human life, its joys and its prospects. Man is on his face. He must hear God's voice calling him to another attitude, or he is hopeless.
II. Many men own the possibility of good which is open to them, while still they are despairing or cynical about the world itself, about the cause of human life in general. This is not merely a speculative opinion. It is an influence which must reach a man's character. A man can have no high respect for himself unless he has a high respect for his human kind. He can have no strong hope for himself unless he has a strong hope for his human kind. And so, whatever be his pure tastes and lofty principles, one trembles for any man whom he hears hopelessly decrying human life in general, or the special condition of his own time.
III. If a man believes in the misery of human life and does not believe in God, he is dragged down among the brutes. If a man believes in the misery of human life and does believe in God, he is carried up to higher notions of God's government, which have loftier purposes than mere happiness or pain. The one great question about all the kind of temper of which I have spoken, is whether it still believes in God. For all belief in God is, must be, belief in ultimate good. No view of the universe can be despairing which keeps Him still in sight.
This was the optimism of Jesus. He saw beyond the sin salvation. He never upbraided the sin except to save men from it. "Not to condemn the world, but to save the world," was His story of His mission. And at His cross the shame and hope of humankind joined hands.
Phillips Brooks, The Candle of the Lord, p. 147.
References: Ezekiel 2:1 . Preachers Monthly, vol. vi., p. 159; S. Macnaughton, Real Religion and Real Life, p. 195.
What is here implied, as the trial of the prophet Ezekiel, was fulfilled more or less in the case of all the prophets. They were not teachers merely, but confessors. They came not merely to unfold the law, or to foretell the Gospel, but to warn and rebuke; not to rebuke only, but to suffer. This world is a scene of conflict between good and evil. The evil not only avoids, but persecutes, the good; the good cannot conquer, except by suffering.
I. The case seems to be this: Those who do not serve God with a single heart know they ought to do so, and they do not like to be reminded that they ought. And when they fall in with any one who does live to God, he serves to remind them of it, and that is unpleasant to them, and that is the first reason why they are angry with a religious man; the sight of him disturbs them, and makes them uneasy. Accordingly, as far as they have power to do it, they persecute him, either, as the text implies, with cruel untrue words, or with cold, or fierce, or jealous looks, or in some worse ways. A good man is an offence to a bad man. The sight of him is a sort of insult, and he is irritated at him, and does him what harm he can.
II. Religious persons are protected in this day from all great persecutions, and they cannot sufficiently be thankful for it. And yet, nevertheless, most true is it, that even now, no one can give his mind to God, and show by his actions that he fears God, but he will incur the dislike and opposition of the world, and it is important that he should be aware of this and be prepared for it. (1) Do not be too eager to suppose you are ill-treated for your religion's sake. Make as light of matters as you can. This is the true Christian spirit, to be meek and gentle under ill-usage, cheerful under slander, forgiving towards enemies, and silent in the midst of angry tongues. (2) Recollect you cannot do any one thing of these duties without God's help. Therefore you must pray to Him for the power. (3) None of us, even the best, have resisted the world as we ought to have done. Let us search our consciences; let us look back on our past lives. Let us try to live more like Christians, more like children of God. Let us beg Him to teach us how to confess Him before men, lest if we deny Him now, He may deny us before the angels of God hereafter.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to " Tracts for the Tunes, " vol. v., p. 259; see also J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. viii., p. 141.
References: Ezekiel 2:6 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 225.Ezekiel 2:7 . D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3432. 2 G. W. McCree, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxii., p. 140. Ezekiel 3:5 , Ezekiel 3:7 . E. Mason, A Pastor's Legacy, p. 451; H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1812.Ezekiel 3:7 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1431; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 119.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Ezekiel 2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13