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DELUSIVE CONFIDENCE REPROVED
Ezekiel 13:10-12. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar: say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an over-flowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?
SO deeply is unbelief rooted in the heart of man, that scarcely any testimony from God is ever received with the confidence it deserves. This appears throughout all the sacred history: and our own lives are one continued exemplification of it. To his people of old God was pleased to give many repeated warnings of the judgments that were coming upon them: but the assertions of false prophets were always credited, in opposition to the declarations of God himself. By the Prophet Ezekiel God forewarned the people of the captivity to which they would soon be reduced by their Chaldean invaders. He directed the prophet to set before their eyes symbolic representations of the calamities that awaited them; to dig through the wall of his house, and carry forth his goods by night, and to eat bread, and drink water, with quaking and trembling [Note: See the whole preceding chapter.]. But false prophets persuaded the people that they had no cause for alarm; for that these signs related to distant times; and that there would soon be an end of the impending dangers. It seems that some, women, as well as men, conspired thus to counteract the influence of God’s word upon the people; and that they sewed pillows to the armholes, or elbows, of persons, and covered their heads with kerchiefs, in order to intimate to them, that they might repose themselves in perfect ease and safety. To reprove these persons, and to confirm his former assertions, is the prophet’s object in the chapter before us. He compares the men to persons building an ill-constructed wall, and daubing it with untempered mortar, which would be washed away by the first shower; and to the women he declares, that God would soon tear from the arms of their deluded followers the emblems of their delusion, and undeceive those whom they had so fatally led astray [Note: See the whole chapter.].
But it is not our intention to confine our remarks to that particular occasion. Similar conduct obtains amongst us at this day; and it calls for similar reproof. We propose therefore to consider,
Who are obnoxious to this reproof—
All ranks and orders of men who attempt to invalidate the messages of the Most High, are guilty of the evil here spoken of. It is justly imputable to
[Not only amongst the Jews, but even in the Christian Church, there were many, who, professing themselves to be ambassadors of heaven, were only deceivers of the people [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:13.Galatians 1:6-8; Galatians 1:6-8. 1 Timothy 4:1. 2 Peter 2:1-2.]. Their habit has at all times been, to “say, Peace, peace, when there was no peace [Note: ver. 10. with Jeremiah 6:14.]. Would to God that none of this character yet existed in the world! But are there not still some who keep out of view the desperate depravity of the human heart, the absolute necessity of a new birth, the impossibility of being saved by any righteousness of our own, and the duty of giving up ourselves wholly and unreservedly to God as his redeemed people? — — — Are there not those who decry these things as enthusiasm; and who tell their hearers, that there is a smoother and an easier way to heaven than what the Scriptures have marked out? — — — If then such persons exist, say whether they do not resemble the prophets and the prophetesses spoken of in our text? — — —]
[Whether seduced by others or not, all are prone of themselves to speak peace unto their own souls: they will not receive the declarations of God concerning them: they cannot endure to think that they are in such danger as God’s word declares them to be; or that the way to heaven is so strait and narrow as his Gospel represents it. They substitute some terms of their own in the place of those which God has prescribed; and they persuade themselves that they shall be saved at last, though they conform themselves in no respect either to the principles or practice of the Christian code — — — Are not these then daubing their wall with untempered mortar, and sewing to their arms pillows which shall he rent away? — — —]
Let us then proceed to notice,
The warning here given them—
Their labour is, alas! and must ever be, in vain: it will end,
In certain and bitter disappointment—
[Their wall will surely fall: and shall it not then be said to them, “Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?” Sad indeed will be the reproaches which both the deceivers and the deceived will cast on each other: the one will say, Why did ye mislead me? the others will say, Why did ye believe me in preference to the word of God? Sad reflections too will all cast upon themselves: Why did I set up my own opinion against the most express declarations of my God? — — — The very disappointment which the Jews experienced, when Ezekiel’s prophecies were verified in the destruction of their city, and in their own captivity, will ere long be realized by all who now buoy themselves up with their own delusions. If they should entreat their God to give them an opportunity of undeceiving their surviving relatives, the answer will be, No: they have Moses and the Prophets; and if they will not attend to their voice, they must receive their deserved recompence.]
In irremediable and endless ruin—
[No further means of salvation will be afforded them. Their day of grace is irrecoverably gone: their state is fixed for ever. O to what anguish of heart are they now a prey! What weeping, what wailing, what gnashing of teeth do they now experience, under a sense of God’s wrath, and in the prospect of its everlasting duration! This must assuredly be the end of all our self-deception. As “Ezekiel was a sign to the Jews [Note: Ezekiel 12:14.],” so have we signs in plenty, that the threatened vengeance shall come [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:5-11. 2 Peter 2:4-9. Jude, ver. 6, 7. “Set forth for an example.”], and that they who will not believe God’s word shall find it true at the last [Note: Jeremiah 44:28.] — — —]
To careless sinners—
[You will persuade yourselves that no evil consequence shall arise to you from your neglect of God and of your own souls. But will God falsify his word to save you? Do not entertain so vain, so impious, a thought. He will not, he cannot, deny himself: nor shall one jot or tittle of his word ever fail — — —]
To self-complacent formalists—
[You profess to reverence the word of God, and to comply with its commands: but, whilst you rest in mere forms and ceremonies of religion, you greatly err. God requires the religion of the heart: you must have “the power of godliness as well as its form.” The wall that you are constructing may look fair to the eye; but it will not stand: it is raised on a sandy foundation: it is formed of bad materials: it wants the cement of the Spirit: the showers shall soon wash off its external covering; and the stormy wind shall scatter the loose materials: in the name of God we declare to you, that “it shall fall.” Nothing will ever stand, but that which is laid on Christ as the foundation, and has all the graces of the Spirit for its superstructure — — —]
To inconsistent professors—
[Be it granted, that, as far as relates to your views of the Gospel, you are right: still we must look to the effects of the Gospel on your heart and life; and must declare unto you, that, if you do not manifest by your life and conversation that you have “the same mind as was in Christ,” you only deceive your own souls: you may have a faith indeed; but it is no better than the faith of devils. From this point we cannot recede a hair’s breadth. We do not say that you must possess sinless perfection; for then who could be saved? But we say, that no sin must have allowed, or habitual, dominion over you: the right eye, or right hand, if knowingly retained contrary to the will of God, will as effectually cast you into perdition, as any number of sins whatever: your condemnation indeed may be increased by a multitude of sins; but it will not be rendered more certain, than it is by one reigning sin. O that those who are worldly-minded, or covetous, or proud, or passionate, or impure, or slothful, or addicted to any one sinful disposition, would consider this! God says, By their fruits ye shall know them: and by their fruits they shall be known. If ever we would be Christ’s, we must “walk as Christ walked.”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ezekiel 13". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany