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fathers, that they may be mutual blessings in this world, and may rejoice together in the day of the Lord.' Pour down thy Spirit upon us, and thy blessing upon our feed. Satisfy us now with thy mercy, that we may be glad and rejoice all our remaining days. Let thy work appear unto us, and thy glory to our children. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, establish the work of our hands, and bless us with thy salvation.”
Ezekiel's affliction in the Death of his Wife, and his
Behaviour under it.
A Funeral Sermon.
EZEKIEL xxiv. 18.
So I (pake to the people in the moming, and at even my wife died ; and I
did in the morning, as I was commanded.
At the time, when Ezekiel's wife died, the destruction of the land of Israel by the Chaldeans was near at hand. In the affliction which befel him, and in his behaviour under it, he was a sign to the people. The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke." The desire of his eyes was his wife ; for he says in our text, “ At evening my wife died.” She died suddenly, within a few hours after he was premonished of the event. She was taken away
with a Aroke.
The order which follows is singular. “ Thou
fhalt not mourn nor weep, neither shall tears run down.” This cannot be intended to forbid, either in him or in others, the natural-sensations of grief; for thefe, in such an affliction, are unavoidable. Neither our feelings nor our tears are always at our own command. To be incapable of grief for the death of a friend, would not be reason and virtue, but hardness and ftupidity. The words rather import, that the stroke would be so sudden and severe, as to amaze and confound him; that it would lock up the avenues of tears, and deny the relief which nature affords in more moderate afflictions.
In this respect he was to the Jews a sign of the dreadful calamity impending, under which they should not mourn nor weep, but pine away in their grief.
The prophet is next forbidden to use the common badges and tokens of mourning ; and thus to signify to his people, that, in the destruction of their city, they would be in no condition to use the ceremonies and wear the dress of sorrow, common on other occasions ; but would flee, or be driven before their enemies, in such habits as could be haftily assumed. “Be thou filent, make no mourning for the dead, bind'the tire of thine head upon thee, and put thy moes on thy feet, cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men." Partake not of the mourning feasts, which custom prescribes on funeral occasions.
“So I spake to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died ; and in the morning," following her death, “ I did as I was command. ed."
“ And the people said unto me, tell us, what the things, which thou doeft, are to us. I answer. ed them, Thus faith the Lord, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength and the
defire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth'; and your fons and your daughters than be slain by the fword; and ye shall do as I have done. Ye fhall not cover your lips," in token of mourning, 66 nor eat the bread of men. Ye faali not mourn nor'weep, but shall pine away in your iniquities.” ni The words of our text, taken in their connex. ion, suggest to us the following thoughts :
That the death of a wife is a moft painful af. Aiction - That under an affliction of this kind careful attention must be paid to the commands of God - That in such an event, others are con. cerned, as well as the immediate sufferer..
-- I. The death of a wife is fiere represented, as one of the most painful 'afflictions incident to mortals. Ezekiel's wife is called “ the desire of his
eyes. And his affliction in her death was to the Jews a sign of their approaching 'distress in the destruc tion of their cities and the depopulation of their country, in which general calamity each one's share would perhaps little exceed the anguifh of a husband in the death of his partner.
· The happiness of human life greatly depends on society and friendship. None of the social connexions are so intimate and affectionate, so strong and interesting, as the conjugal connexion. This is founded in love, cemented by reciprocal offices of kindness, strengthened by a community of interest, especially by a common relation to, and concern in the dependent members of the family. The diffolution of this connexion breaks one of the clofest social ties, and crosses one of the strongeft affections of humanity. It places the surviver in a lonely condition, and involves him in new and unexperienced cares.' His affliction is
increased by the sorrow which he feels for his children, perhaps for a helpless offspring, deprived of a parent, and unable to realize their loss. Hence their loss is more fensibly realized by him. In other afflictions he could find one to take an equal Ihare with him. But this he must bear alone without a partner to divide it with him. This spreads a gloom over the face of nature, and dark. ens all his worldly prospects. Every new care, which meets him, reminds him of his loss, and calls
up his forrows afresh. The objects, which once gave him pleasure, look as if they could please no more ; the business, which formerly he pursued with cheerfulness, becomes a burden, because the one, who was wont to participate in his joys, is gone.
This afflicion is, in fcripture, placed among the moft painful adversities incident to our mortal state. They who have experienced it acknowledge the representation to be juft.
The trial is more overwhelming, when it comes suddenly. In the prophet's case, it was an aggravating circumstance, that the desire of his eyes was taken away with a stroke, and within a few hours after the first apprehension of danger.
To a godly person a sudden death is as safe as a lingering one. But to surviving friends it is more ditreffing, because it finds them unprepared for it. The expectation of such an event gradually puts the mind in an attitude to meet it. Though perhaps a long suspension between hope and fear may give equal pain on the whole, yet at no moment is the anguilh so keen, as when the stroke falls suddenly. The mind, like the body, can sustain a heavier burden laid on by gentle degrees, and slowly increased, than if it fall with its full weight at once. In the former case, we brace