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him of the fact. But there is no such clear-speaking voice in the natural heart of man, which admonishes him of his dependence upon God: nor is the operation of his continual over-ruling power so plain in the external world, but that it may easily be overlooked. Whatever men may do in speculation, and in teaching, few persons in their own practice run into any extreme in underrating their power of free agency; whereas multitudes lose from their minds all notion of the superintending providence, and assistance of the Almighty 6. In order therefore to keep this truth in its due prominence, it may be generally necessary for the preacher more especially to dwell upon it. Again; in doing this, let him bring it forward, not as theoretic, but as practical truth—that is, in immediate connection with the improvement of the heart and conduct. Let him use it to raise emotions of pious thankfulness for blessings already bestowed, for progress in holiness already made ; and to encourage to hopeful diligence in future exertions ?.
As individual Christians, our part is, while we earnestly pray to God for his continual help, earnestly to endeavour too, that the assistance he bestows may be effectual unto holiness of life. It is His to give; but it is for us to employ. It is our great and glorious privilege to receive the grace of God. It is our great danger to receive that grace in vain 8. In vain will it have been received, if it work not effectually in us to purify us from the lusts of the flesh, and to quicken us in the pursuit of heavenly things. If it do not abate our pride, moderate our passions, make us humble believers in the word of God, and anxious and diligent to fulfil his will. If it do not strengthen our faith, quicken our hopes, and enlarge our charity; that having been thus on earth partakers of the best gifts of the Holy Spirit, we may be thereby fitted for the enjoyment of full communion with Him, and the Father, and the Son, in the eternal mansions of the kingdom of heaven.
o See Butler's Anal. c. vi. ? See Hey's Lect. vol. iii. p. 227, etc. and vol. iv. p. 25, etc.
THE VISION OF THE DRY BONES.
EZEK. XXXVII. 3.
AND HE SAID UNTO ME, SON OF
AN, CAN THESE BONES LIVE ?
AND I ANSWERED, O LORD GOD, THOU KNOWEST.
This striking chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel is one which can hardly fail to arrest the attention of the reader of Scripture, and is doubtless not unfamiliar to those, who, being accustomed to the study of the sacred volume, have made themselves well acquainted with its contents. But since (though we may regret that such should be the case) this portion of Scripture, which is declared by Jerome to be the subject of frequent perusal in all the churches of the Christian world", is not one of those selected to be read either in the daily services of our Church, or in the course of the proper lessons on the sundays; it is to be feared, that there may be some among us, to whom the mere citation of one verse will not recal sufficiently
'Famosa est Visio, et omnium Ecclesiarum Christi lectione celebrata Hieron. Comment. in Ezek. in loc.
the substance of the passage in which it occurs. I will therefore in the first place read the verses which immediately precede and follow my text, in order that, having thus the whole of the vision of the prophet present before us, we may, by the assistance of the grace of God, dwell with more advantage upon the instruction his words convey.
“ The hand of the Lord,” says Ezekiel, upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about : and behold, there were very many in the open valley ; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, 0 ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live : and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied, as I was commanded : and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above : but there was no breath in them. Then
said he unto me, prophesy unto the wind, prophesy son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied, as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.”
Such is the passage, to which I propose to direct your attention—a passage so striking from its majestic brevity, and simple severity of style—so graphic in the lively imagery, by which it brings the scene it describes home to our feelings, and realizes almost into a fact that which it declares to be a vision, that I fear, in enlarging upon it, to destroy the effect, which in its own powerful simplicity it should produce, and by unworthy comments to weaken the force of ideas flowing from divine wisdom, and derived to us through the medium of that prophet, in whom inspiration developed its sublimest visions, and soared with the boldest wing.
But, inasmuch as there may be some of my hearers, to whom the vision in its direct meaning may seem to require some development ; and others, who may be assisted in the profitable consideration of it by some suggestions of practical application, I will proceed in the first place to