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bewailed the folly of their fathers in persecuting the prophets, when themselves were endeavouring to kill the Son of God, Matt. xxiii. 29, 30. To bring, then, upon the spirits of men a conviction of the works of God, and his righteousness therein, so as to prevail with them to rest in his determination of things, is a task meet only for him who knows all their hearts within them, and can carry on the issues of his providence until to a man they shall say, “ Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God who judgeth in the earth,” Ps. lviii. 11. And this is that which the Lord here undertakes to accomplish, “And,” saith he, "all the trees,” &c.

In the preaching and prophesying of Ezekiel, this one thing among others is eminent, that he was “ artifex parabolarum,”—a wonderful " framer of similitudes and parables; a way of teaching attended with much evidence, clearness, and power.

In particular, he frequently compares the world to a field, or a forest, and the inhabitants of it to the trees therein ;-an allusion exceedingly proper, considering the great variety and difference of condition both of the one and the other. The trees of the field are some high, some low; some green, some dry; some strong, some weak; some lofty, some contemptible; some fruitful, some barren; some useful, some altogether useless: so that you have all sorts of persons, high and low, of what condition, relation, or interest soever, clearly represented by the trees of the field; and these are the trees in my text.

This chapter, unto verse 22, is taken up in a riddle, a parable, with the exposition of it.' The time being come that God would destroy the outward, visible monarchy of the Jews, for their false worship, tyranny, persecution, and oppression, he employs the king of Babylon in that work, who subdues the nation, takes away two kings, one after another, and appoints Zedekiah a titulary governor under him.' But the wrath of God being to come upon them to the uttermost, he also closes with Egypt, rebels against him by whose appointment alone he had any right to be a ruler, verse 16; so way is made, by his ruin, to put an end to the kingly reign of the house of David in Jerusalem, Jer. xxix. 16, 17. The Lord had of old erected a kingly government in the house of David, 1 Sam. xvi. 1; 2 Sam. xii. 7;—not for any eminency in the government itself, or for the civil advantage of that people,—for he had long before chosen and established another, consisting of " seventy elders of the people,” Numb. xi. 24, to whom he added prophets and judges, extraordinarily raised up in several generations, according to his promise, Deut. xviii

. 18, (which when the people rejected, he said they rejected him, or his institution, 1 Sam. i Ezek. XX. 49.

xvii. 2. 3 2 Chron. xxxvi. 17. 2 Kings xxiv. 1-3. 5 Jer. xxxvii. 1; 2 Kings xxiv. 17; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10. · Ps. xlv. 6; Hos. iii. 5; Isa. ix. 7, xri. 5, xxii. 22; Jer. xxiii. 5; Amos ix. 11; Ezek. xxxiv, 23, 24, xxxvii. 24, 25.

viii. 7),—but that it might be a type of the spiritual dominion of their Messiah;' and so was a part of their pedagogy and bondage, as were the residue of their types, every one of them ;-yea, the most glorious enjoyments whatsoever which were granted them (which did yet represent something that was afterward to be brought in), was part of that servile estate wherein God kept that people, that without us they should not be made perfect. But now this carnal people, beholding the outward beauty, lustre, and glory of the type, began to rest in it, to the neglect of the spiritual kingdom of Christ represented thereby.' And thus did they with the rest of their types, until the Lord destroyed all their outward pomp and glory, Isa. i. 11, 12; Jer. vii. 4, 14, 15. So, in particular, dealt he with their kingly government, when once they began to account their bondage their glory, and to embrace the shadow instead of the substance. And this did he, to recall them to a serious consideration of the tendency of all typical institutions, and the design he was carrying on concerning the kingdom of Christ.

Hence, verse 22 of this chapter, he calls them from their thoughtfulness about the destructions, desolations, and contentions that were amongst them in reference to their civil rule, to the consideration of that design which he was secretly and silently carrying on under all these dispensations. “I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: in the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it; and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.” As if the Lord should say, There is a great noise in the world about setting up and plucking down of kings, in this their carnal rule; and many of you see nothing else,– you will look no farther: but I also have my work in hand; my design is not bounded within these limits and outward appearances; I am setting up a King that shall have another manner of dominion and rule than these worms of the earth. He shall stand;-as Mic. v. 4.

The setting up, then, of this kingdom of Christ, who is "the highest branch of the high cedar,” and planting it in the church, the “mountain of Israel,” with the prosperity thereof, and safety of him that shall dwell therein, is the subject of verses 22, 23. This being that to the consideration whereof God here calls his people at such a season, I shall naine one or two observations from this connection of the words.

2 I Cor. x. 11; Acts xv. 10; Gal. iii. 4.

Observation 1. In the midst of all the tumults and embroilments of the nations, that which the Lord takes peculiarly as his own design, into his own management, is the carrying on of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus.

You are about your work, saith the Lord, I also am about mine; you have your branches and cedars, I also have one to plant, that shall flourish. Dan. ii. 44, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed,” &c. Were not those kings and kingdoms also of his setting up, that it is said, In their days he shall set up one of his own? Yea, doubtless; "He changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings," chap. ii. 21. He “ ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,” chap. iv. 25. There is not a persecuting Pharaoh, but he raises him up for his own purpose, Exod. ix. 16. But yet, in respect of the kingdom of his Son, he speaks of them as if he had nothing to do with them: In their days I will do my own work,-advance the kingdom of the Lord Christ.

There are great and mighty works in hand in this nation; tyrants are punished,—the jaws of oppressors are broken,-bloody, revengeful persecutors disappointed,

-and, we hope, governors set up that may be “just, ruling in the fear of God, that they may be as the light of the morning," etc., 2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4. The hand of the Lord hath been wonderfully exalted in all these things; but yet, should we rest in them, should they not be brought into an immediate subserviency to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus,—the Lord will quickly distinguish between them and his own peculiar design, and say, In the days of these changes I will do so and so;—speak of them as if he had nothing to do with them. The carrying on of the interest of Christ is his peculiar aim; he, of his goodness, make it ours also !

Observation 2. Among all the designs that are on foot in the world, there is none that hath either stability, fixedness, or final success, but only the design of God concerning the kingdom of Christ.

Other branches may be set, but the branch of the Lord only prospers! The likeliest appearances of other undertakings are but as the glorious rising of the sun in the morning, -quickly clouded. The interest of Christ is like Joseph, Gen. xlix. 23, 24. Ofttimes the archers shoot at it, and grieve it; but in the close the bow thereof abides in strength; and therefore this is the issue of all these dispensations, that the kingdoms and nations are at length to be possessed by the Lord Christ," his sheaf standing up, and all others bowing thereunto.

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Hag. ii. 6,7; Heb. xii. 26, 27; Isa. viii. 9, 10, ix. 7, xlvi. 10, liii. 10; Ps. xxxiï 11; Prov. xix. 21, xxi. 30; Job xxiii, 13.

· Isa. lx. 12, 13; Rev. xi. 15.

And unto the consideration of these things, in the midst of all the tumults in the world, doth God effectually recall his people, and withal tells them how he will carry it on, in the words of my text, “And all the trees," &c.

In the words three things are to be observed,—First, The work that God ascribes to himself. And that he sets down under a twofold similitude: of pulling down the “high tree,” and setting up the “low tree;" and of drying up the "green tree," and making the “dry tree” to flourish; and both these similitudes are coincident, serving only in this redoubling for the clearer illustration of that which they shadow out. Secondly, There is the issue that God will carry this out unto in respect of others: "All the trees of the field shall know.” Thirdly, A particular assurance that the Lord gives for the accomplishment of all this, from the engagement of his name: “I the LORD," &c.

First, For the first, the expression of the work of the Lord may be taken two ways: 1. Strictly and properly; 2. Largely, and by the way of analogy and proportion.

i. In the first way you may consider,

(1.) The tree that is to be cast down and withered, and that is the “high tree," and the “green tree,”—a tree that in their eyes had both beauty and vigour, high and green; this was the Judaical kingdom, admired and delighted in by the Jews. This, says God, I will reject; as also he will many a tall Eliab, that even some Samuels may think to be his anointed.

(2.) The tree that is to be exalted and made to flourish, and that is the “low tree,” the “ dry tree," contemptible for growth;—it is low, useless for fruit, it is dry. And this is the spiritual kingdom of the Messiah, contemned, despised. This, says God, I will exalt, carry on, and make glorious; for though the interest of Christ and the gospel may seem low and dry for a season, in comparison of the glory of other flourishing interests, yet, in the issue, it shall be exalted above them all.

2. As taken more largely, and by the way of analogy; and so,

(1.) The high and the green tree are the things of the most glorious appearance in the world, -persons and states that seem to be exceedingly suited for the work that God hath to do, that are in the greatest probability to be eminently instrumental in his hand: but, alas! says God, These will I pull down, and cause to wither. Perhaps you will think it strange, that a mighty monarchy, a triumphing prelacy, a thriving conformity, should all be brought down; but so it shall be, "Every mountain shall be made a plain."

(2.) The “low tree," and the “dry tree," are things, persons, assemblies, outwardly weak and contemptible,-such as wise men do verily believe that God will never use; they will not understand that such Moseses shall be deliverers, but cry, Who made them judges and rulers? But even these will God exalt and cause to flourish; “Every valley shall be exalted.”

Two observations flow from hence, which I shall insist upon:

I. In the carrying on of the interest of Christ and the gospel, God will work wonderful providential alterations.

II. The actings of God's providence in carrying on the interest of Christ, shall be exceedingly unsuited to the reasonings and expectations of the most of the sons of men.

Some trees must be plucked down, and some raised up; yea, high trees thrown down, and the low caused to flourish. There is the issue of God's thus dealing in respect of others, “ All the trees of the field,” &c. By the “trees of the field” are meant men of all sorts that are concerned in these transactions.

And herein you may observe two things :-something intimated; and that is, an unwillingness in men to own these dispensations of God; hence the Lord undertakes himself to set on a conviction upon them, as a thing of great difficulty;—and something expressed; which is the conviction itself that shall in the issue fall upon them, notwithstanding all their reluctancy. Hence also are these two observations :

Observation 1. Men are exceeding unwilling to see and own the hand of God in those works of his providence which answer not their reasonings, interests, and expectations.

Observation 2. The Lord will not cease walking contrary to the carnal reasonings of men, in his mighty works for the carrying on the interest of the Lord Jesus, until his hand be seen, owned, and confessed.

For what remains concerning the assurance of the accomplishment of all this from the engagement of his name, I shall only add, that the

power and faithfulness of God are engaged in the carrying on the things of the kingdom of Christ, to the conviction of the most stubborn opposers.

I begin with the first,

I. In the carrying on the interest of Christ and the gospel, God will work wonderful providential alterations,—alterations among the trees of the field, nations, states, and men on earth.

When the beginning of the saints' departure from under the dominion of Antichrist was followed with wars, tumults, and destructions, it was objected to Luther, that that doctrine could not be of God which was attended with such desolations : he replied, according to the vigour of his spirit, “ Ego nisi tumultus istos viderem, Christum in mundo esse non crederem;"_“Did he not see those tumults, he

· Exod. ii. 14; Acts vii. 27.

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