Here are three separate messages which God entrusts the prophet to
deliver concerning Judah and Jerusalem, and all to the same purport, to
show them their sins and the judgments that were coming upon them for
I. Here is a catalogue of their sins, by which they had exposed
themselves to shame and for which God would bring them to ruin,
II. They are here compared to dross, and are condemned as dross to the
III. All orders and degrees of men among them are here found guilty of
the neglect of the duty of their place and of having contributed to the
national guilt, which therefore, since none appeared as intercessors,
they must all expect to share in the punishment of,
|The Sins of Jerusalem.
||B. C. 591.|
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the
bloody city? yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.
3 Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD, The city sheddeth
blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh
idols against herself to defile herself.
4 Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed; and
hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made; and
thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto
thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the
heathen, and a mocking to all countries.
5 Those that be near, and those that be far from thee,
shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed.
6 Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to
their power to shed blood.
7 In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the
midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in
thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.
8 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my
9 In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee
they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit
10 In thee have they discovered their fathers' nakedness: in
thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.
11 And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's
wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and
another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.
12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken
usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy
neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord
13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest
gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in
the midst of thee.
14 Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the
days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it,
and will do it.
15 And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee
in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.
16 And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the
sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
In these verses the prophet by a commission from Heaven sits as a judge
upon the bench, and Jerusalem is made to hold up her hand as a prisoner
at the bar; and, if prophets were set over other nations, much more
over God's nation,
This prophet is authorized to judge the bloody city, the city
of bloods. Jerusalem is so called, not only because she had been
guilty of the particular sin of blood-shed, but because her crimes in
general were bloody crimes
such as polluted her in her blood, and for which she deserved to have
blood given her to drink. Now the business of a judge with a malefactor
is to convict him of his crimes, and then to pass sentence upon him for
them. These two things Ezekiel is to do here.
I. He is to find Jerusalem guilty of many heinous crimes here
enumerated in a long bill of indictment, and it is billa vera--a true
bill; so he writes upon it whose judgment we are sure is according
to truth. He must show her all her abominations
that God may be justified in all the desolations brought upon her. Let
us take a view of all the particular sins which Jerusalem here stands
charged with; and they are all exceedingly sinful.
1. Murder: The city sheds blood, not only in the suburbs, where
the strangers dwell, but in the midst of it, where, one would
think, the magistrates would, if any where, be vigilant. Even there
people were murdered either in duels or by secret assassinations and
poisonings, or in the courts of justice under colour of law, and there
was no care taken to discover and punish the murderers according to the
no, nor so much as the ceremony used to expiate an uncertain murder
and so the guilt and pollution remains upon the city. Thus thou hast
become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed,
This crime is insisted most upon, for it was Jerusalem's
measure-filling sin more than any; it is said to be that which the
Lord would not pardon,
2 Kings 24:4.
(1.) The princes of Israel, who should have been the protectors
of injured innocence, every one were to their power to shed
They thirsted for it, and delighted in it, and whoever came within
their power were sure to feel it; whoever lay at their mercy were sure
to find none.
(2.) There were those who carried tales to shed blood,
They told lies of men to the princes, to whom they knew it would be
pleasing, to incense them against them; or they betrayed what passed in
private conversation, to make mischief among neighbours, and set them
together by the ears, to bite, and devour, and worry one another, even
to death. Note, Those who, by giving invidious characters and telling
ill-natured stories of their neighbours, sow discord among brethren,
will be accountable for all the mischief that follows upon it; as he
that kindles a fire will be accountable for all the hurt it does.
(3.) There were those who took gifts to shed blood
who would be hired with money to swear a man out of his life, or, if
they were upon a jury, would be bribed to find an innocent man guilty.
When so much barbarous bloody work of this kind was done in Jerusalem
we may well conclude,
[1.] That men's consciences had become wretchedly profligate and seared
and their hearts hardened; for those would stick at no wickedness who
would not stick at this.
[2.] That abundance of quiet, harmless, good people were made away
with, whereby, as the guilt of the city was increased, so the number of
those that should have stood in the gap to turn away the wrath of God
2. Idolatry: She makes idols against herself to destroy herself,
Thou hast defiled thyself in thy idols which thou hast made.
Note, Those who make idols for themselves will be found to have made
them against themselves, for idolaters put a cheat upon themselves and
prepare destruction for themselves; besides that thereby they pollute
themselves, they render themselves odious in the eyes of the just and
jealous God, and even their mind and conscience are defiled, so
that to them nothing is pure. Those who did not make idols
themselves were yet found guilty of eating upon the mountains,
or high places
in honour of the idols and in communion with idolaters.
3. Disobedience to parents
In thee have the children set light by their father and
mother, mocked them, cursed them, and despised to obey them, which
was a sign of a more than ordinary corruption of nature as well as
manners, and a disposition to all manner of disorder,
Those that set light by their parents are in the highway to all
wickedness. God had made many wholesome laws for the support of the
paternal authority, but no care was taken to put them in execution;
nay, the Pharisees in their day taught children, under pretence of
respect to the Corban, to set light by their parents and refuse to
4. Oppression and extortion. To enrich themselves they wronged the poor
They dealt by oppression and deceit with the stranger,
taking advantage of his necessities, and his ignorance of the laws and
customs of the country. In Jerusalem, that should have been a sanctuary
to the oppressed, they vexed the fatherless and widows by
unreasonable demands and inquisitions, or troublesome law-suits, in
which might prevails against right. "Thou hast taken usury and
not only there are those in thee that do it, but thou hast done it." It
was an act of the city or community; the public money, which should
have been employed in public charity, was put out to usury, with
extortion. Thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by
violence and wrong. For neighbours to gain by one another
in a way of fair trading is well, but those who are greedy of
gain will not be held within the rules of equity.
5. Profanation of the sabbath and other holy things. This commonly goes
along with the other sins for which they here stand indicted
Thou hast despised my holy things, holy oracles, holy
ordinances. The rites which God appointed were thought too plain, too
ordinary; they despised them, and therefore were fond of the customs of
the heathen. Note, Immorality and dishonesty are commonly attended with
a contempt of religion and the worship of God. Thou hast profaned my
sabbaths. There was not in Jerusalem that face of
sabbath-sanctification that one would have expected in the holy
city. Sabbath-breaking is an iniquity that is an inlet to all
iniquity. Many have owned it to contribute as much to their ruin as any
6. Uncleanness and all manner of seventh-commandment sins, fruits of
those vile affections to which God in a way of righteous judgment gives
men up, to punish them for their idolatry and profanation of holy
things. Jerusalem had been famous for its purity, but now in the
midst of thee they commit lewdness
lewdness goes bare-faced, though in the most scandalous instances, as
that of a man's having his father's wife, which is the discovery of
the father's nakedness
and is a sin not to be named among Christians without the utmost
(1 Corinthians 5:1),
and was made a capital crime by the law of Moses,
The time to refrain from embracing has not been observed
for they have humbled her that was set apart for her pollution.
They made nothing of committing lewdness with a neighbour's
wife, with a daughter-in-law, or a sister,
And shall not God visit for these things?
7. Unmindfulness of God was at the bottom of all this wickedness
"Thou hast forgotten me, else thou wouldst not have done thus."
Note, Sinners do that which provokes God because they forget him; they
forget their descent from him, dependence on him, and obligations to
him; they forget how valuable his favour is, which they make themselves
unfit for, and how formidable his wrath, which they make themselves
obnoxious to. Those that pervert their ways forget the Lord their
II. He is to pass sentence upon Jerusalem for these crimes.
1. Let her know that she has filled up the measure of her iniquity, and
that her sins are such as forbid delays and call for speedy vengeance.
She has made her time to come
her days to draw near; and she has come to her years of
maturity for punishment
as an heir that has come to age and is ready for his
inheritance. God would have borne longer with them, but they had
arrived at such a pitch of impudence in sin that God could not in
honour give them a further day. Note, Abused patience will at last be
weary of forbearing. And, when sinners (as Solomon speaks) grow
overmuch wicked, they die before their time
and shorten their reprieves.
2. Let her know that she has exposed herself, and therefore God has
justly exposed her, to the contempt and scorn of all her neighbours
I have made thee a reproach to the heathen, both those who
are near, who are eye-witnesses of Jerusalem's apostasy and
degeneracy, and those afar off, who, though at a distance, will
think it worth taking notice of
they shall all mock thee. While they were reproached by their
neighbours for their adherence to God it was their honour, and they
might be sure that God would roll away their reproach. But, now that
they are laughed at for their revolt from God, they must lie down in
their shame, and must say, The Lord is righteous. They make a
mock at Jerusalem, both because her sins had been very
scandalous (she is infamous, polluted in name, and has
quite lost her credit), and because her punishment is very
grievous--she is much vexed and frets without measure at
her troubles. Note, Those who fret most at their troubles have commonly
those about them who will be so much the more apt to make a jest of
3. Let her know that God is displeased, highly displeased, at her
wickedness, and does and will witness against it
I have smitten my hand at thy dishonest gain. God, both by his
prophets and by his providence, revealed his wrath from heaven against
their ungodliness and unrighteousness, the oppressions
they were guilty of, though they got by them, and their murders
(the blood which has been in the midst of thee), and all their
other sins. Note, God has sufficiently discovered how angry he is at
the wicked courses of his people; and, that they may not say that they
have not had fair warning, he smites his hand against the sin
before he lays his hand upon the sinner. And this is a good
reason why we should despise dishonest gain, even the gain of
oppressions, and shake our hands from holding bribes,
because these are sins against which God shakes his hands,
4. Let her know that, proud and secure as she is, she is no match for
(1.) She is assured that the destruction she has deserved will come:
I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it. He that is true to
his promises will be true to his threatenings too, for he is not a man
that he should repent.
(2.) It is supposed that she thinks herself able to contend with God,
and so stand a siege against his judgments. She bade defiance to the
day of the Lord,
(3.) She is convinced of her utter inability to make her part good with
him: "Can thy heart endure, or can thy hand be strong, in the days
that I shall deal with thee? Thou thinkest thou hast to do only
with men like thyself, but shalt be made to know that thou fallest into
the hands of a living God." Observe here,
[1.] There is a day coming when God will deal with sinners, a
day of visitation. He deals with some to bring them to repentance, and
there is no resisting the force of convictions when he sets them on; he
deals with others to bring them to ruin. He deals with sinners in this
life, when he brings upon them his sore judgments; but the days of
eternity are especially the days in which God will deal with them, when
the full vials of God's wrath will be poured out without mixture.
[2.] The wrath of God against sinners, when he comes to deal with them,
will be found both intolerable and irresistible. There is no heart
stout enough to endure it; it is none of the infirmities which the
spirit of a man will sustain. Damned sinners can neither forget nor
despise their torments, nor have they any thing wherewith to support
themselves under their torments. There are no hands strong enough
either to ward off the strokes of God's wrath or to break the chains
with which sinners are bound over to the day of wrath. Who knows the
power of God's anger?
5. Let her know that, since she has walked in the way of the heathen,
and learned their works, she shall have enough of them
"I will not only send thee among the heathen, out of thy
own land, but I will scatter thee among them and disperse
thee in the countries, to be abused and insulted over by
strangers." And since her filthiness and filthy ones
continued in her, notwithstanding all the methods God had taken to
refine her (she would not be made clean,
he will be his judgments consume her filthiness out of her; he
will destroy those that are incurably bad and reform those that are
inclined to be good.
6. Let her know that God has disowned her and cast her off. He had been
her heritage and portion; but now
"Thou shalt take thy inheritance in thyself, shift for thyself,
make the best hand thou canst for thyself, for God will no longer
undertake for thee." Note, Those that give up themselves to be ruled by
their lusts will justly be given up to be portioned by them. Those that
resolve to be their own masters, let them expect no other comfort and
happiness than what their own hands can furnish them with, and a
miserable portion it will prove. Verily, I say unto you, They have
their reward. Thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things.
These are the same with this, "Thou shalt take thy inheritance in
thyself, and then, when it is too late, shalt own in the sight
of the heathen that I am the Lord, who alone am a portion
sufficient for my people." Note, Those that have lost their interest in
God will know how to value it.
|The Sins of Jerusalem.
||B. C. 591.|
17 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all
they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of
the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become
dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of
20 As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and
tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to
melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury,
and I will leave you there, and melt you.
21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my
wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye
be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD
have poured out my fury upon you.
The same melancholy string is still harped upon, and various turns are
given it, to make it affecting, that it may be influencing. The prophet
must here show, or at least it is here shown him, that the whole house
of Israel has become as dross and that as dross they shall be consumed.
What David has said concerning the wicked ones of the world is here
said concerning the wicked ones of the church, now that it is corrupt
Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross.
I. See here how the wretched degeneracy of the house of Israel is
described. That state, in David's and Solomon's time, had been a
head of gold; when the kingdoms were divided it was as the arms
of silver. But now,
1. It has degenerated into baser metal, of no value in comparison with
what it formerly was: They are all brass, and tin, and iron, and
lead, which some make to signify divers sorts of sinners among
them. Their being brass denotes the impudence of some in their
wickedness; they are brazen-faced, and cannot blush; their
shoes had been iron and brass
but now their brow is so,
Their being tin denotes the hypocritical profession of piety with which
many of them cover their iniquity; they have a specious show, but no
intrinsic worth. Their being iron denotes the cruel disposition of
some, and their delight in war, according to the character of the
iron age. Their being lead denotes their dulness, sottishness,
and stupidity: though soft and pliable to evil, yet heavy and not
movable to good. How has the gold become dross! How has the most
fine gold changed! So is Jerusalem's degeneracy bewailed,
Yet this is not the worst; these metals, though of less value, are yet
of good use. But,
2. The house of Israel has become dross to me. So she is in
God's account, whatever she is in her own and her neighbours' account.
They were silver, but now they are even the dross of silver; the
word signifies all the dirt, and rubbish, and worthless stuff, that are
separated from the silver in the washing, melting, and refining of it.
Note, Sinners, and especially degenerate professors, are in God's
account as dross, vile, and contemptible, and of no account, as the
evil figs which could not be eaten, they were so evil.
They are useless and fit for nothing; of no consistency with themselves
and no service to man.
II. How the woeful destruction of this degenerate house of Israel is
foretold. They are all gathered together in Jerusalem; thither people
fled from all parts of the country as to a city of refuge, not only
because it was a strong city, but because it was the holy city. Now God
tells them that their flocking into Jerusalem, which they intended for
their security, should be as the gathering of various sorts of metal
into the furnace or crucible, to be melted down, and to have the dross
separated from them. They are in the midst of Jerusalem,
surrounded by the forces of the enemy; and, being thus enclosed,
1. The fire of God's wrath shall be kindled upon this furnace,
and it shall be blown, to make it burn fiercely and strongly,
God will gather them in his anger and fury. The blowing of the
fire makes a great noise, so will the judgments of God upon Jerusalem.
When God stirs up himself to execute judgments upon a provoking people,
from the consideration of his own glory and the necessity of making
some examples, then he may be said to blow the fire of his wrath
against sin and sinners, to heat the furnace seven times hotter.
2. The several sorts of metal gathered in it shall be melted; by a
complication of judgments, as by a raging fire, their constitution
shall be dissolved, they shall lose all their former shape and
strength, and shall be utterly unable to stand before the wrath of God.
The various sorts of sinners shall be melted down together, and united
in a common overthrow, as brass and lead in the same
furnace, as trees are bound in bundles for the fire. They came
together into Jerusalem as a place of defence, but God brought them
together there as unto a place of execution.
3. God will leave them in the furnace
I will gather you into the furnace and will leave you
there. When God brings his own people into the furnace he sits by
them, as the refiner by his gold, to see that they be not continued
there any longer than is fitting and needful; but he will bring these
people into the furnace, as men throw dross into it, which they design
shall be consumed, and therefore are in no care about it, but leave
it there. Compare with this
I will tear and go away.
4. Hereby the dross shall be wholly separated and the good metal
purified, the impenitent shall be destroyed and the penitent reformed
and fitted for deliverance. Take away the dross from the silver, and
there shall come forth a vessel for the finer,
This judgment shall do that in the house of Israel for the doing of
which other methods had been tried in vain, and reprobate silver
shall they no more be called,
|Charge against Prophets and Priests.
||B. C. 591.|
23 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
24 Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not
cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst
thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have
devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things;
they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine
holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and
profane, neither have they shewed difference between the
unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths,
and I am profaned among them.
27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening
the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest
28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar,
seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith
the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken.
29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised
robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have
oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the
hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should
not destroy it: but I found none.
31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I
have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have
I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.
I. A general idea given of the land of Israel, how well it deserved the
judgments coming to destroy it and how much it needed these judgments
to refine it. Let the prophet tell her plainly, "Thou art the land
that is not cleansed, not refined as metal is, and therefore
needest to be again put into the furnace. Means and methods of
reformation have been ineffectual; thou art not rained upon in the
day of indignation." This was one of the judgments which God
brought upon them in the day of his wrath, he withheld the rain
Or, "When thou art under the tokens of God's displeasure, even in the
day of indignation thou art not rained upon; thou hast not
received instruction by the prophets, whose doctrine is said to
descend as the rain." Or, "When thou art corrected thou art not
cleansed; thy filth is not carried away as that in the streets is by a
sweeping rain. Nay, though it be a day of indignation with thee,
yet thy filthiness, which should be done away, has become more
offensive, as that of a city is in dry weather, when it is not
rained upon." Or, "Thou hast nothing to refresh and comfort thyself
with in the day of indignation; thou art not rained upon by
divine consolations." So the rich man in torment had not a drop of
water, or rain, to cool his tongue.
II. A particular charge drawn up against the several orders and degrees
of men among them, which shows that they had all helped to fill the
measure of the nation's guilt, but none had done any thing towards the
emptying of it; they are therefore all alike.
1. They have every one corrupted his way, and those who should
have been the brightest examples of virtue were ringleaders in iniquity
and patterns of vice.
(1.) The prophets, who pretended to make known the mind of God
to them, were not only deceivers, but devourers
and hardened them in their wickedness both by their preaching, wherein
they promised them impunity and prosperity, and by their conversation,
in which they were as profligate as any. There is a conspiracy of
her prophets against God and religion, against the true prophets
and all good men; they conspired together to be all in one song, as
Ahab's prophets were, to assure them of peace in their sinful ways.
Note, The unity which is found among pretenders to infallibility, and
which they so much boast of, is only the result of a secret
conspiracy against the truth. Satan is not divided against
himself. The prophets are in conspiracy with the murderers
and oppressors, to patronise and protect them in their wickedness, and
justify what they did with their false prophecies, provided they may
come in sharers with them in the profits of it. They are like a
roaring lion ravening the prey; they thunder out threats against
those whose ruin is aimed at, terrify them, or make them odious to the
people, and so make themselves masters,
[1.] Of their lives: They have devoured souls, have been
accessory to the shedding of the blood of many an innocent person, and
so have made many to become sorrowful widows who were comfortable
wives. They have persecuted those to death who witnessed against their
pretensions to prophecy and would not be imposed upon by their
counterfeit commission. Or, They devoured souls by flattering sinners
into a false peace and a vain hope, and seducing them into the paths of
sin, which would be their eternal ruin. Note, Those who draw men to
wickedness, and encourage them in it, are the devourers and murderers
of their souls.
[2.] Of their estates. When Naboth is slain they take possession of his
vineyard; They have seized the treasure and precious things, as
forfeited; some way or other they had of devouring the widows'
houses, as the Pharisees,
Or, They got this treasure, and all these precious
things, as fees for false and flattering prophecies; for he that
puts not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him,
It was said with Jerusalem when such men as these passed for
(2.) The priests, who were teachers by office, and had the custody of
the sacred things, and should have called the false prophets to
account, were as bad as they,
[1.] They violated the law of God, which they should have observed and
taught others to observe. They made no conscience of the law of the
priesthood, but openly broke it, and with contempt, as Hophni and
Phinehas. They did what they had a mind, with an express non
obstante--notwithstanding to the word of God. And how should those
teach the people their duty who lived in contradiction to their own?
[2.] They profaned God's holy things, about which they were to
minister, and which they ought to have restrained others from the
profanation of. They suffered those to eat of the holy things who were
unqualified by the law. The table of the Lord was contemptible with
them. By dealing in holy things with such unhallowed hands they did
themselves profane them.
[3.] They did not themselves put a difference, nor did they show the
people how to put a difference, between the holy and profane, the
clean and the unclean, according to the directions and distinctions
of the law. They did not exclude those from God's courts who were
excluded by the law, nor teach the people to observe the difference the
law had made between food clean and unclean, between times and places
holy and common; but they lived at large themselves and encouraged the
people to do so too.
[4.] They hid their eyes from God's sabbaths; they took no care
about them; it was all one to them whether God's sabbaths were kept
holy or no; they neither gave countenance to those who observed them
nor check to those who profaned them, nor did they themselves show any
regard to them or veneration for them. They winked at those who did
servile works on that day, and looked another way when they should have
inspected the behaviour of the people on sabbath days. God's sabbaths
have such a beauty and glory put upon them by the divine institution as
may command respect; but they hid their eyes from them and would
not see that excellency in them.
[5.] By all this God himself was profaned among them; his
authority was slighted, his goodness made light of, and the highest
affront and contempt imaginable were put upon his holiness. Note, The
profanation of the honour of the scriptures, of sabbaths and sacred
things, is a profanation of the honour of God himself, who is
interested in them.
(3.) The princes, who should have interposed with their authority to
redress these grievances, were as daring transgressors of the law as
They are like wolves ravening the prey; for such is power
without justice and goodness to direct it. All their business was to
[1.] Their own pride and ambition, by making themselves arbitrary and
[2.] Their own malice and revenge, by shedding blood and
destroying souls, sacrificing to their cruelty all those that
stood in their way or had in any thing disobliged them.
[3.] Their own avarice; all they aim at is to get dishonest
gain, by crushing and oppressing their subject. Lucri bonus est
odor ex re qualibet. Rem, rem, quocunque modo rem--Sweet is the odour
of gain, from whatever substance it ascends. Money, money, by fairness
or by fraud, get money. But, though they had power sufficient to
carry them on in their oppressive courses, yet how could they answer it
both to their credit and to their consciences? We are told how
The prophets daubed them with untempered mortar, told them in
God's name (horrid wickedness!) that there was no harm in what they
did, that they might dispose of the lives and estates of their subjects
as they pleased, and could do no wrong, nay, that in prosecuting such
and such whom they had marked out they did God service; and thus they
stopped the mouth of their consciences. They also justified what they
did, to the people, nay, and magnified it as if it were all for
the public good, and so saved their reputation, and kept their
oppressed subjects from murmuring. Note, Daubing prophets are the great
supporters of ravening princes, but will prove at last their great
deceivers, for they daub with untempered mortar which will not hold,
nor will the wall stand long that is built up with it. They pretend to
be seers, but they see vanity; they pretend to be diviners, but
they divine lies; they pretend a warrant from Heaven for what
they say, and that it is all as true as gospel; they say, Thus saith
the Lord God, but it is all a sham, for the Lord has not spoken
any such thing.
(4.) The people that had any power in their hands learned of their
princes to abuse it,
Those that should have complained of the oppression of the subject, and
have put in a claim of rights on behalf of the injured, that
should have stood up for liberty and property, were themselves invaders
of them: The people of the land have used oppression and exercised
robbery. The rich oppress the poor, masters their servants,
landlords their tenants, and even parents their own children; nay, the
buyers and sellers will find some way to oppress one another. This is
such a sin as, when it is national, is indeed a national judgment, and
is threatened as such.
The people shall be oppressed every one by his neighbour. It is
an aggravation of the sin that they have vexed the poor and
needy, whom they should have relieved, and have oppressed the
stranger and deprived him of his right, to whom they ought
to have been not only just, but kind. Thus was the apostasy universal
and the disease epidemical.
2. There is none that appears as an intercessor for them
I sought for a man among them that should stand in the gap, but I
found none. Note,
(1.) Sin makes a gap in the hedge of protection that is about a people
at which good things run out from them and evil things pour in upon
them, a gap by which God enters to destroy them.
(2.) There is a way of standing in the gap, and making up the breach
against the judgments of God, by repentance, and prayer, and
reformation. Moses stood in the gap when he made intercession for
Israel to turn away the wrath of God,
(3.) When God is coming forth against a sinful people to destroy them
he expects some to intercede for them, and enquires if there be but one
that does; so much is it his desire and delight to show mercy. If there
be but a man that stands in the gap, as Abraham for Sodom, he will
discover him and be well pleased with him.
(4.) It bodes ill to a people when judgments are breaking in upon them,
and the spirit of prayer is restrained, so that not one is found
that will either give them a good word or speak a good word for them.
(5.) When it is so, what can be expected but utter ruin? Therefore
have I poured out my indignation upon them
have given it full scope, that it may come upon them in a full stream;
yet, whatever God's wrath inflicts upon a people, it is their own
way that is therein recompensed upon their heads, and God
deals with them no worse, but even much better, than their iniquity