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The character of Ezekiel, as a Writer and Poet, is thus admirably drawn by the masterly hand of Bishop Lowth: “Ezekiel is much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance; in sublimity he is not even excelled by Isaiah; but his sublimity is of a totally different kind. He is deep, vehement, tragical; his sentiments are elevated, animated, full of fire and indignation; his imagery is crowded, magnificent, terrific; his language is grand, solemn, austere, rough, and at times unpolished; he abounds in repetitions, not for the sake of grace or elegance, but from vehemence and indignation. Whatever subject he treats of, that he sedulously puruses; from that he rarely departs, but cleaves, as it were, to it; whence the connexion is in general evident and well preserved. In other respects he may perhaps be exceeded by the other prophets; but, for that species of composition to which he seems adapted by natural gifts, the forcible, impetuous, grave, and grand, not one of the sacred writers is superior to him. His diction is sufficiently perspicuous; all his obscurity arises from the nature of his subjects. Visions (as for instance, among others, those of Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah), are necessarily dark and confused. The greater part of Ezekiel, particularly towards the middle of the book, is poetical, whether we regard the matter of the language.” Abp. Newcombe judiciously observes, The Prophet is not to be considered merely as a poet, or as a framer of those august and astonishing visions, and of those admirable poetical representations, which he committed to writing; but as an instrument in the hands of God, who vouchsafed to reveal himself, through a long succession of ages, not only in divers parts constituting a magnificant and uniform whole, but also in different manners, as by voice, by dreams, by inspiration, and by plain or enigmatical vision. “Ezekiel is a great poet, full of originality; and, in my opinion, whoever censures him as if he were only an imitator of the old prophets, can never have felt his power. He must not, in general, be compared with Isaiah, and the rest of the old prophets. Those are great, Ezekiel is also great; those in their manner of poetry, Ezekiel in his.” To justify this character the learned prelate descends to particulars, and gives apposite examples, not only of the clear, flowing, and nervous, but also of the sublime; and concludes his observations on his style, by stating it to be his deliberate opinion, that if his “style is the old age of Hebrew language and composition (as has been alleged), it is a firm and vigorous one, and should induce us to trace its youth and manhood with the most assiduous attention.” As a Prophet, Ezekiel must ever be allowed to occupy a very high rank; and few of the prophets have left a more valuable treasure to the church of God than he has. It is true, he is in several places obscure; but this resulted either from the nature of his subjects, or the events predicted being still unfulfilled; and, when time has rolled away the mist of futurity, successive generations will then perceive with what heavenly wisdom this much neglected prophet has spoken. There is, however, a great proportion of his work which is free from every obscurity, and highly edifying. He has so accurately and minutely foretold the fate and condition of various nations and cities, that nothing can be more interesting than to trace the exact accomplishment of these prophecies in the accounts furnished by historians and travellers; while, under the elegant type of a new temple to be erected, a new worship to be introduced, and a new Jerusalem to be built, with new land to be allotted to the twelve tribes, may be discovered the vast extent and glory of the New Testament Church.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29