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Miller’s Works, vol. 1. Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology

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    LECTURE ON THE VISIONS OF EZEKIEL

    I. Introduction

    Ezekiel 12:27.MWV1 118.1

    Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.MWV1 118.2

    EVER since man fell from the state of innocence and obedience in which he was created and placed in the garden of Eden, he has been prone to hide from God, and to cover iniquity in his bosom, rather than to confess his crimes and forsake his transgressions, as the law of gratitude would dictate, and the gospel of Jesus Christ require. When man sinned, all the malignant passions of the evil spirit entered the citadel of his heart, and reigned predominant over his soul. 1See Ephesians 2:2. 2 Timothy 2:26. Hatred, which like a goad urges him on to his own destruction, is ever rankling in his breast, and, mad with rage, he plunges forward like an angry horse in the day of battle, to trample under foot the Being he abhors, the law he dislikes, and even the offers of mercy and peace which he detests. Malice deliberately influencing his mind, like a deep flowing river, presses him onward to plot all kind of mischief against him whom he ought in his soul to admire and respect, and likewise against those who may love, or be loved, by the object of his malicious spite.MWV1 118.3

    This can only account for the ferocious persecution which has followed the people of God in all ages, and among all nations, from the days of Cain and Abel to the present time. If man had been only possessed of hatred without malice, he would not have persecuted, he would only have shunned the society of him he detested; but malice pursues the object with an untiring zeal, which will never yield, even in death itself. For in hell they lift up their eyes, (with a malicious spite against the throne, and him who sitteth upon it,) being in torment. Show me a man, or WOMAN if you please, who has malice against a neighbor, and I will show you one whose tongue will never tire, whose feet will never be weary. Neither the torrents nor the blasts, the rains nor the snows, darkness nor light, will ever prevent them from spreading their malicious lies, to injure their neighbor’s character. They will visit the couch of the sick, or the bed of the dying, to whisper the often-told, malignant tale. They will put on the visage of sanctity itself, and visit the sanctuary of God, where holy men and women meet to praise and pray, in order to drop their poison into the ear of some unwary listener. They will creep into houses to lead captive silly women, as says the apostle. They will separate very friends-they will destroy the peace of families, the prosperity of Zion. Such are the servants of Satan.MWV1 118.4

    Envy is another base and sordid passion of fallen man. How mean, how selfish, how despicable is that soul that looks with envy on those above it, that cannot be at ease when others are blessed, that rests only in the woes of others. Vexation and disappointment are the lot of its inheritance. “Envy,” says Solomon, “is the rottenness of the bones.” The envious man is his own tormentor. Job says “envy slayeth the silly one.”MWV1 119.1

    But unbelief, that worst of all sins, that final, soul-destroying sin, which makes man an infidel, and sinks him down to dwell in endless woe, where hope and joy, and every grace that gives to life a blessing, are gone, forever gone-which distrusts the word of God given for the soul’s salvation; discards the promises, although supported by the oath of God; and hinders the work of God, though Christ himself be engaged in it;-what shall we say of this climax of all sins?MWV1 119.2

    Christ himself could not do many mighty works in his own country, and among his own kin, because of their unbelief. Unbelief caused the destruction of the Israelites in the wilderness; they did not rely on the word of God, his promises they rejected, his precepts despised, his providence disregarded, and murmured against his government; therefore they were consumed in the wilderness. Unbelief will eventually prove the condemnation of the wicked. For the unbelieving, says John, shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death. This then, of all the evils of the human heart, brings most destructive consequences. For all that Christ has done for the salvation of sinful man cannot save an unbeliever, and all that God has done, by sending his Son, and revealing his will, his word, his grace, and proving the truth thereof by a cloud of incontestable witnesses, showing man his fallen state, his need of salvation, the certainty of condemnation, placing before him the highest motives to happiness and glory, presenting the most deplorable condition of the finally impenitent, exciting the rational mind to virtue and holiness by the promise of great and lasting rewards, threatening the incorrigible with just and heavy judgments here, and in the world to come eternal banishment from all good;-all this will not effect his salvation; the unbeliever is an unbeliever still. Nothing, no motives, no threatenings, no rewards can move him. He remains unchanged. Yet there is one way and one only by which the unbelieving heart can be changed. And blessed be the name of God, he alone was able to discover the way and execute the plan. Infinite knowledge could devise, and creative power could do the work. You must be born again-created in Christ Jesus unto good works. All other ways were tried with the people to whom our text is addressed, “the house of Israel.” Their fathers had been called and separated from all the families of the earth, they had been preserved by miracles, and delivered from their powerful foes by the more powerful arm of the Almighty. They had been fed and clothed by the liberal hand of him who called them sons. He condescended to converse with some of them as a man converses with his friend, face to face. He wrote the constitution of their laws with his own finger on tables of stone. He gave his precepts to Moses, and sanctioned them on mount Sinai by his voice. He divided to Israel by lot, and appointed their portion in a land flowing with milk and honey. He drove his enemies before them, and gave them peace in all their borders. He established his ordinances among them, and his holiness filled their temple at Jerusalem. He promised them a Messiah in the seed of Abraham to sit upon the throne of David. Yet after all they were rebellious still, as the prophet says in the context.MWV1 120.1

    With these preliminary remarks, I now come,MWV1 121.1

    I. TO ILLUSTRATE THE VISION; the vision which they treated with so much neglect, and said it was yet “for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.”MWV1 121.2

    The visions which Ezekiel had seen you will find in the first chapter of Ezekiel, and then again the eighth to the tenth inclusive. In these visions, which agree, are represented the glory of God in the revelation of the gospel, which would be revealed in Christ between the two cherubims, the Old and New Testaments; the setting up of the spiritual kingdom, and destruction of the Jewish hierarchy; the different situations or times in the gospel day, through which this kingdom would pass; and the completion of the same, and destruction of the world and all the abominations of the earth. It is very evident to those who will read these visions of Ezekiel, that the principal design of God was to warn the Jews of the heavy judgments which he was about to bring upon their city and nation, for their gross sins, their dreadful abominations, and idolatrous departure from the living God, and through them also to warn us of our approaching danger, under similar circumstances. For what happened to them “happened unto them for ensamples, (or types,) and they are written for our admonition, on whom the end of the world is come,” as saith the apostle, 1 Corinthians 10:11.MWV1 121.3

    The first and second chapters of Ezekiel give us the vision which he first saw. The four living creatures, having the faces of a lion, man, ox and eagle, are the same as John saw, Revelations fourth and fifth chapters, and, as we are there taught, are those who are redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, including the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The lion represents the church in the apostles’ age, when they went forth bold as lions, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world. The ox represents the church in a state of subjection and persecution, under the Roman emperors Nero, Domitian, and others, when they were delivered unto the slaughter and were made slaves by the Roman power. The face of a man denotes that state under which the church lived in the days of Constantine and his successors, when the kingdoms of the world, represented in prophecy by beasts, were more or less under the control of the church and her ambitious clergy, as beasts are under the rule of man; and when the church united with the state, and became haughty, imperious, and proud, like a man. The face of an eagle represents the church in the state when antichrist began to persecute and devour the true children of God, and her divine Master gave her two wings of an eagle, that she might fly unto the place in the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, to be nourished 1260 days, or time, times and a half: thus giving us the four principal features of the church as she has appeared to the world since her establishment on the earth. The wheels denote the government of God. The outer or outside wheel is his general government with the world, and the kingdoms thereof, in which the church now moves. The inner wheel is the government of God over his church while in this state, under the control or power of the kingdoms of the world, and shows us that God has a people, a remnant, in the world, children of the kingdom, invisible perhaps to us, but known unto God from the creation, as all his works were; “For we have this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” Yet they grow with the tares, and will grow with them, as our Savior said, until the harvest, or end of the world: when they, that is, his people, will be gathered from among all people, where they have been scattered during the dark and cloudy day of persecution, tribulation, and distress.MWV1 122.1

    But God, rich in mercy towards those who believe, has by the prophets and apostles opened the door of his future dealings, so that we can look into the times yet to come, and discover some of that glory which his children will inherit at the revelation of Jesus Christ, to comfort and console those who believe, under their trials and afflictions, and to animate and excite those who are dilatory and negligent in his cause to more faithfulness and perseverance in the way.MWV1 123.1

    Not only has our heavenly Father opened the doors of futurity to his children, but to those also who are yet in a state of nature, that they might believe. He has, by his word, by the mouth of his prophets, and by Jesus Christ and the apostles, taught them the awful destruction that awaits the finally impenitent. David says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell,” Psalm 9:17, and prays, “Let them go down quick into hell.” 55:15. Isaiah, speaking of the wicked worshipers of Babylon, says, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell.” Isaiah 14:15. Christ says, “Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28. Again, “How can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33.MWV1 123.2

    In 2 Peter 3:7: “But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” And “these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Matthew 25:46. “And they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:29. Surely God could not have talked more plainly; and, indeed, what language could have been used, so that wicked men would not have perverted and wrested it? They themselves cannot give us any language which would have expressed the idea to their satisfaction. Peter says, “Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. Ye, therefore, brethren, seeing that ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” 2 Peter 3:16, 17.MWV1 123.3

    I have endeavored to show you some of the things which God has revealed to his servants the prophets in visions; and it now remains for me to show some of those excuses which the Jews made, to evade the force and truth of Ezekiel’s prophecy.MWV1 124.1

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