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silver-nothing to give to God in return for all his bounty-let him buy without silver, and eat; and live for ever that eternal life of righteousness, holiness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, which is the one true and only salvation bought for us by the precious blood of Christ, our Lord.
(Preached before the Queen at Windsor, June 26, 1864.)
EZEKIEL I. 1, 26. Now it came to pass, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. And upon the likeness of the throne was
the likeness as the appearance of a man. TZEKIEL'S Vision may seem to some a
strange and unprofitable subject on which to preach. It ought not to be so in fact. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for correction, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness. And so will this Vision be to us, if we try to understand it aright. We shall find in it fresh knowledge of God, a clearer and fuller revelation, made to Ezekiel, than had been up to his time made to any man.
I am well aware that there are some very
difficult verses in the text. It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand exactly what presented itself to Ezekiel's mind.
Ezekiel saw a whirlwind come out of the north; a whirling globe of fire ; four living creatures coming out of the midst thereof. So far the imagery is simple enough, and grand enough. But when he begins to speak of the living creatures, the cherubim, his description is very obscure. All that we discover is, a vision of huge creatures with the feet, and (as some think) the body of an ox, with four wings, and four faces,—those of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle. Ezekiel seems to discover afterwards that these are the cherubim, the same which overshadowed the ark in Moses' tabernacle and Solomon's Templeonly of a more complex form ; for Moses and Solomon's cherubim are believed to have had but one face each, while Ezekiel's had four.
Now concerning the cherubim, and what they meant, we know very little. The Jews, at the time of the fall of Jerusalem, had forgotten their meaning. Josephus indeed says they had forgotten their very shape.
Some light has been thrown, lately, on the figures of these creatures, by the sculptures of those very Assyrian cities to which Ezekiel was a captive,—those huge winged oxen and lions with human heads; and those huge human figures with four wings each, let down and folded round them just as Ezekiel describes, and with heads, sometimes of the lion, and sometimes of the eagle. None, however, have been found as yet, I believe, with four faces, like those of Ezekiel's Vision ; they are all of the simpler form of Solomon's cherubim. But there is little doubt that these sculptures were standing there perfect in Ezekiel's time, and that he and the Jews who were captive with him may have seen them often. And there is little doubt also what these figures meant, — that they were symbolic of royal spirits, those 'thrones, dominations, princedoms, powers,' of which Milton speaks, the powers of the earth and heaven, the royal archangels who, as the Chaldæans believed, governed the world, and gave it and all things life; symbolized by them under the types of the four royal creatures of the world, according to the Eastern notions; the ox signifying labour, the lion power, the eagle foresight, and the man reason.
So with the wheels which Ezekiel sees.-We find them in the Assyrian sculptures—wheels with a living spirit sitting in each, a human figure with outspread wings; and these seem to have been the genii, or guardian angels, who watched over their kings, and gave them fortune and victory.
For these Chaldæans were specially worshippers of angels and spirits; and they taught the Jews many notions about angels and spirits which they brought home with them into Judæa after the captivity.
Of them of course we read little or nothing in Holy Scripture: but there is much, and too much, about them in the writings of the old Rabbis, the Scribes and Pharisees of the New Testament.
Now Ezekiel, inspired by the Spirit of God, rises far above the old Chaldæans and their dreams. Perhaps the captive Jews were tempted to worship these cherubim and genii, as the Chal