Ezekiel 18:31
Cast away from yourselves all the transgressions you have committed, and fashion for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel?
Sermons
A Divine AppealHomilistEzekiel 18:31
A New HeartE. H. Chapin, D. D.Ezekiel 18:31
A Solemn and Startling InquiryW. Jones Ezekiel 18:31
Conversion a Radical and Entire ChangeEzekiel 18:31
Divine Impartiality ConsideredAndrew Lee et al Ezekiel 18:31
Divine RemonstranceJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 18:31
Duty of Sinners to Make a New HeartN. Emmons, D. D.Ezekiel 18:31
Expostulation with the ImpenitentJ. Jowett, M. A.Ezekiel 18:31
Man's Duty to Remake HimselfHomilistEzekiel 18:31
Precept, Promise, and PrayerD. Moore, M. A.Ezekiel 18:31
Self-DestructionW. W. Whythe.Ezekiel 18:31
Soul ReformationHomilistEzekiel 18:31
The Divine Compassion for SinnersA. Leslie.Ezekiel 18:31
The Existence and Renewal of a Moral Heart in ManHomilistEzekiel 18:31
The Formation of a New HeartPitt Clarke.Ezekiel 18:31
The Harmony Between Divine Sovereignty and Human AgencyH. Martin.Ezekiel 18:31
The Needlessness of Man's RuinHomilistEzekiel 18:31
The Sinner's Duty to Make Himself a New HeartN. W. Taylor.Ezekiel 18:31
Voluntary Sin and Self-DestructionJ. Patten.Ezekiel 18:31
Why Will Ye DieT. De Witt Talmage.Ezekiel 18:31
Why Will Ye DieJohn Stoughton.Ezekiel 18:31
Why Will Ye DieDean Alford.Ezekiel 18:31
The Path to LifeJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 18:25-32
A Call to the ImpenitentJ. Hill.Ezekiel 18:30-32
Breaking the Entail of SinE. R. Derby.Ezekiel 18:30-32
Escape from RuinT. Snow.Ezekiel 18:30-32
God's Vindication of HimselfJohn D. Lane, M. A.Ezekiel 18:30-32
Preservative from RuinR. Treffry.Ezekiel 18:30-32


There is something very impressive in the form of this remonstrance. If the question were taken in its literal sense, and published among men upon Divine authority; if men were invited to accept immunity from buddy dissolution; - in how many cases would the appeal meet, not only with earnest attention, but with eager response! The death which is here referred to must be that which consists in Divine displeasure, or, at all events, that death in which such displeasure forms the most distressing ingredient. The appeal may be enforced by several obvious but weighty considerations.

I. WHY WILL YE DIE, WHEN DEATH IS THE WORST OF DOOMS? If the death of the body is in itself and in its circumstances and consequences of a repulsive nature, all the more fitly may it serve to set forth and to suggest the evils denoted in Scripture as spiritual death. Insensibility and dissolution may be taken as figures of that spiritual state in which interest in Divine truth and righteousness and love has departed, in which there is no occupation in the service of God. The soul that has any just sense of its own good must needs shrink from such a condition.

II. WHY WILL YE DIE, WHEN LIFE IS THE GREATEST OF BLESSINGS? The life of the body, if accompanied by health and favorable circumstances, is desirable and delightful. No wonder that in Scripture the highest blessings of which the nature of man is capable are designated by the suggestive and comprehensive term "life." The spirit that truly lives is open to all heavenly appeals and influences, finds in the just exercise of its powers the fullest satisfaction, experiences the blessedness of fellowship with the ever-living God. Our Lord Christ himself came to this world, and wrought and suffered as he did, in order that "we might have life, and might have it more abundantly." The appeal of the text calls upon us to accept this priceless boon.

III. WHY WILL YE DIE, SEEING THAT THE MEANS OF LIFE ARE WITHIN YOUR REACH? There would be mockery in the appeal of the text were this not so. But he who alone can provide both the means and the end compassionately addresses those who have forfeited life and have deserved death, and urges upon them the remonstrance, "Why will ye die?" It is a remonstrance which comes home with tenfold force to those who listen to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, "the true God and the Eternal Life." Knowledge and faith, the Holy Spirit of God himself, and the truth which he reveals and applies to the nature of man; - here are the means, here is the living agency, by which men may rise "from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness." When such means and such agency are provided, the guilt and folly are manifest of those who choose death rather than life.

IV. WHY WILL YE DIE, WHEN GOD HIMSELF WISHES FOR YOUR LIFE RATHER THAN DEATH? The benevolence of the Divine nature finds expression in the virtual entreaty of the text. It is as though a kind of infatuated wilfulness were presumed to exist in the breasts of sinful men; as if, while their Maker and Judge wishes to be their Saviour, they were indisposed to accept the boon offered by his pity and loving kindness. It is as though the eternal Lord himself, against whom sinners have offended, urged his own compassion upon those who have no pity upon themselves.

V. WHY WILL YE DIE, WHEN CHRIST HAS DIED FOR YOU? He gave his life a ransom for many. The Saviour's death is represented as the redemption, the purchase price, securing the exemption from death of those who accept the provision of Divine mercy and love. The appeal is powerful which is made to sinful men not to refuse the boon so graciously offered, and secured at a price so costly. Christ died that we might live. - T.









Make you a new heart, and a new spirit.
I. THIS IS AN EXHORTATION WHICH, IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, EVERY MAN NEEDS TO HEAR. Here is a man who has to cross a river. There is no difficulty in crossing — the bridge is there — it is plain and palpable; but he stops to speculate how the bridge could have been erected — how it could span the river — and he goes still deeper into subtleties, and speculates how it is possible that he has the power of crossing it, and all the while neglects the work before him in theories that amount to no practical value, if they ever could be decided. Now here is a simple, practical work set before a man — to make himself a new heart and a new spirit. So far as man's own immediate action is concerned, there is little reason why he should perplex himself with controversies or questionings about human ability and total depravity. I do not say that the truth or falsehood of these theories is not an important consideration. But I say no man need trouble himself long with theories, so far as his own immediate duty is concerned, in this demand for practical action. Another question may be disposed of, when we consider how practical this appeal is, and that is the question, Who makes a new heart? Do you make it, or does God make it? Now here, as almost everywhere else, we find two poles to one truth — one referring to God, and one to man — but the moment we come to act, they are reconciled. If one warms into earnest effort upon the idea of having a new heart and a new spirit, the two conditions of God's agency and man's agency will melt together. If he stand still in cold, barren speculation, he freezes to death. And it is a mistake to suppose that God is not glorified when we dwell upon the point of human action. When we say you can make a new heart and a new spirit, it is a great mistake to suppose that we take the glory from God. For whence come all good desires and all right actions? They proceed from God, and from Him alone. And so do all strength and all ability. A man does not get an education, any more than a new heart, of himself. Is it not Providence that furnishes the circumstances which may incite him to the pursuit of an education, and help him to get it? Is it not Providence that touches the mysterious processes of the mind by which education becomes possible? Now suppose we should say, "This matter of getting a new heart is a process of self-education"; it would be reduced to simple terms, and yet a great many would start from it and say, "This won't do; it is too cold and naturalistic — too much of human agency to call getting religion a process of self-education." And yet what is self-education but the inspiration and the life of the Divine? You do not strike God out when you put human agency in. The fact is just this: God stands ready with His conditions, which are necessary to all human effort and to all success, whenever man is ready to fall in with those conditions. When we set the sail, the wind will blow; when we sow the seed, the agencies that God Himself has prepared in the atmosphere and in the earth will perform their part; and when we set ourselves to work to make a new heart, God's Spirit will breathe upon us and help us to consummate the work. No man that knows what it is to strive to overcome evil affections within, and sore temptations without, to grow better and purer, will take anything to himself in working out that deliverance. If in any degree he shall attain that end, he will feel that he has had Divine help — that something higher than he has breathed into him and inspired him. The very process of his work will show where he touches God, and where God Almighty has helped him, and he will give all the glory to Him. So it is perfectly consistent with God's power and glory to speak to us in the words of the text, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." It is a call to action. What are you waiting for? You will never be in a better condition than now to make yourself a new heart. The call is at once; it is now. The Divine agencies are ready; it is only for you to surrender yourself to the conception of the great purpose and the great aim, and God will answer, and the blessing will come flowing within.

II. THE PECULIARITY WHICH THIS POWER AND PRIVILEGE OF MAKING A NEW HEART EXHIBITS IN MAN. It is a wonderful thing that a man can make himself a new heart. How all little, shallow scepticisms go down before one grand moral fact! Superficial science affects to see in man nothing but a superior animal — a highly-developed ape; and judged solely by its standard, man is but little superior, and in some respects appears inferior, to the higher order of brutes. But when we seek to find the true standard of excellence, how distinct he stands from all the creatures around him! All sealed things he unloosens; all secrets he lays open; and as he marches on from point to point of civilisation, of glory, of intellectual attainment, of scientific achievement, by the inward power within him, the outward world is changed and assumes aspects that reflect his genius and thought. But there is more than this in man. There is the power of going into himself, and quarrying in the deep places of his own soul. There is a power of changing the tendency and plane of his own life. You never heard of that in the brutes. They all run in the same round, move forward in the same direction, revolve in the same orbit from age to age. But man has the power of stopping short, changing his direction, lifting up the level of his life, and becoming a new being. So it is the inward change that makes him the new being. It is the new spirit that comes into a man that produces the great and vital change. This is the new birth of which Christ spoke to Nicodemus. "Make you a new heart and a new spirit," and then you have the new man — then you have new life. Oh, how wonderfully religion adjusts itself to the great facts and needs of human nature! for is there anything that could be stated of such immediate and vital importance as this simple appeal, "Make yourself a new heart"? Out of this change come all other changes. No movement for the regeneration of society, no measure for the improvement of the world, can be radically effective but as it comes out of the reservoirs of individual hearts. It is a good world or a bad world, as men's hearts are good or bad. How vital, how radical, then, is the appeal made in the text! In all conditions of life, in all trims, in all misfortunes, this is what we want — a new heart — and then the aspect of things will be changed. Because we cannot always change things themselves. The man that is borne down by calamity cannot alter his calamity. But make yourself a new heart; fall into harmony with God's law in the matter; see your misfortune in a providential point of view, far up in the light of some higher and grander purpose which God has in store for you, and look if the thing will be changed. It will stand there as a calamity if you look at it in your old way; but if you look at it in the light of God's providence, it will be a new thing to you. "Make you a new heart." How vital this is! It goes below all things else. It goes to the centre of a man's personality, and out of it springs all real life. Not make yourself new brains. We do not want them so much as hearts. Not new conditions. We see men well endowed with conditions, but not with the will to use them. We want new hearts; not new intellectual powers. We cannot make new brains, but we can, every one of us, make a new heart. The great consideration is, Do we desire a new heart? What is the life within? Are we selfish? Are we gravitating simply to this world, living within our aims, vain cares, and uses? "Make you a new heart and a new spirit."

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

This will appear —

I. FROM THE NATURE OF A NEW HEART. It is a heart that loves, and fears, and serves God. It is called "new," as being entirely another and a different heart from that of the sinner. The sinful heart is a selfish heart — a heart fixed in its supreme affections on the world, and opposed to God. A new heart is a heart of benevolence or love. The sinful heart rejects the Saviour; a new heart believes in Him. A sinful heart loves sin; the new heart hates it. The sinful heart leads its possessor into sinful practices; the new heart prompts to a course of holy obedience to the will of God.

II. FROM THE NATURE OF MAN. Man is an intelligent voluntary being. He is capable of knowing his duty, and of performing it. He has understanding; the power of knowing what is right and what is wrong. He has the capacity of feeling the motives to right and wrong action. He has a will or heart; the power of choosing and refusing, or of loving and hating. He not only possesses these powers and capacities, but he uses them. And the only question is, how ought he to use them? Ought he to use them right or wrong? With ample powers to love God or to love the world, he is required to love the one, and forbidden to love the other. Ought he not to comply? Ought not such a being to put away his old heart of enmity, and to make himself a new heart of love?

III. GOD COMMANDS SINNERS TO MAKE THEMSELVES A NEW HEART. The text is explicit. The command is, Amend, reform; make you a new heart. The same thing is implied in every other command of God given to sinners. There is not one which does not require a right heart — the exercise of those affections in which a new heart consists. Does God require sinners to love Him? It is with all the heart. Does He require them to believe? It is with the heart. Does He require them to pray? It is to seek Him with all the heart. And so of every other command.

IV. THE SAME THING IS EVIDENT FROM FACTS. It has often been done; and this in two forms. Thus Adam was once holy — his heart was right with God. Now, in turning from holiness to sin, he changed his own heart — he made himself a new heart. And surely, if a man can turn from right to wrong, from holiness to sin, he can turn, and ought to turn, from sin to holiness, from wrong to right. But this is not all. Every Christian has, in fact, through grace, made himself a new heart. "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit"; "Ye have put off the old man, and put on the new man." True, when the sinner does this, he does it through the Spirit. Still he does it. He purifies his soul. It is his act. It is an act of obedience. He obeys the truth. And what does God do, when by His Spirit He brings the sinner thus to act? He causes the sinner to love, to repent, to believe — to give his heart to God in the exercise of these affections. It is not God who repents, believes, and loves, but the sinner.

V. IF SINNERS ARE NOT BOUND TO MAKE THEMSELVES A NEW HEART, THEN THE LAW OF GOD IS NOT BINDING ON MEN. There can be no sin in violating a law when there is no obligation to obey it. On the same principle, man has never broken the Divine law. Or, rather, there is no law of God; for a law which imposes no obligation is no law. If, therefore, the sinner has not always been, and is not now, under obligation to make himself a new heart, or, what is the same thing, to love God, he never has sinned at all — he commits no sin now. Can any believe this?

VI. THE SAME IS EVIDENT FROM THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL. The Gospel is a system of grace from beginning to end. Its great atonement by blood — the awakening, renewing, and sanctifying influences of the Divine Spirit — is all grace. But, as we have seen, if man is not bound to make himself a new heart, he is not a sinner. Christ, then, has not died for sinners. He did not come to seek and save those who were lost — those who deserved eternal death; but those who were innocent. Again: if the sinner is not bound to make himself a new heart, there is no grace in the influences of the Holy Spirit. Grace is favour shown to sinners — to the ill-deserving. If, then, man is not bound to make himself a new heart, without the aids of the Divine Spirit, then he is not to blame, is not ill-deserving for not having such a heart, and of course there is no grace in giving him such a heart.

VII. THE CHARACTER OF GOD DECIDES THE TRUTH OF OUR DOCTRINE. Here I present the simple question of reason and of equity. Ought the sinner to love the all-perfect God? God, his Maker, his Preserver, Benefactor, Saviour — God, the best friend he has in the universe — God, whose character is infinite excellence, combining all that is comprehensive in wisdom, vast in power, enrapturing in goodness and mercy — claims the sinner's heart — claims it of right — claims it under His own promise and oath to give all He can give to bless. In opposition is arrayed the world, which deceives, ensnares, corrupts, and destroys the soul forever. And can reason, can conscience, hesitate as to the reasonableness and the equity of these opposing claims? Remarks.

1. They who deny the sinner's power as a moral agent to make himself a new heart, deny the scriptural doctrine of the Divine influence, or the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. This subject shows us that ministers are bound to exhort sinners to make themselves new hearts, and to do nothing, which implies that they are not to do this.

3. We see the absurdity of the sinner's plea, that he cannot change his own heart.

4. We see why the influences of the Holy Spirit are necessary to change the hearts of sinners.

5. The duty of the sinner to make himself a new heart is to be regarded by him as a practicable duty.

(N. W. Taylor.)

I. WHAT A NEW HEART IS. There is no ground to suppose that it means any new natural power or faculty of the soul, which is necessary to render sinners capable of understanding and doing their duty. They are as completely moral agents as saints, and as completely capable, in point of natural ability, of understanding and obeying the will of God. Nor can a new heart mean any new natural appetite, instinct, or passion. Whatever belongs to our mere animal nature, belongs to sinners as well as to saints. Nor can a new heart mean any dormant, inactive principle in the mind, which is often supposed to be the foundation of all virtuous or holy exercises. We may as easily conceive that all holy affections should spring from that piece of flesh which is literally called the heart, as to conceive that they should spring from any principle devoid of activity. This leads me to say positively, that a new heart consists in gracious exercises themselves; which are called new, because they never existed in the sinner before he became a new creature, or turned from sin to holiness. This will appear from various considerations. In the first place, the new heart must be something which is morally good, and directly opposite to the old heart, which is morally evil. But there is nothing belonging to the mind that is either morally good or morally evil which does not consist in free, voluntary exercises. This will further appear, if we consider, next, that the Divine law requires nothing but love, which is a free, voluntary exercise. And this, I would further observe, is agreeable to the experience of all who repent, and turn from their transgressions, and make them a new heart and a new spirit. The change which they experience is merely a moral change.

II. WHAT IT IS TO MAKE A NEW HEART. When God says, Be sober — Be vigilant — Be humble — Be obedient — Be holy — Be perfect — He means that men should put forth truly pious and holy affections. And so far as these and other Divine precepts respect sinners, they require the exercise of the same affections, only with this peculiar circumstance, that they are "new" or such as they never exercised before.

III. IT IS THE DUTY OF SINNERS TO MAKE THEM A NEW HEART.

1. The mere light of nature teaches that every person ought to exercise universal benevolence. This duty results from the nature of things. And surely sinners under the Gospel are no less obliged, by the nature of things, to put away all their selfish affections.

2. God, who perfectly knows the state and characters of sinners, repeatedly commands them to make them a new heart. When God commands them to love Him with all their hearts, and their neighbour as themselves; or when He commands them to repent, to believe, to submit, to pray, to rejoice, or to do anything else; He implicitly commands them to make them a new heart, or to exercise holy instead of unholy affections.And for sinners to exercise holy affections, is to exercise the new affections in which a new heart consists.

1. If the making of a new heart consists in the exercising of holy instead of unholy affections, then sinners are not passive, but active in regeneration.

2. If sinners are free and voluntary in making them a new heart, then regeneration is not a miraculous or supernatural work.

3. If it be a duty which God enjoins upon sinners, and which they are able to perform, to make them a new heart, then there is no more difficulty in preaching the Gospel to sinners than to saints.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. Man morally HAS MADE himself what he is. The dominant disposition of some is love for sensual indulgence, of others love for money, of others love for show, of others love for power and fame. To suppose that Almighty Love and Holiness created intelligent beings to be inspired and ruled by such dispositions as these is to the last degree derogatory to the Divine character, and repugnant to all our moral intuition and a priori reasonings. The moral heart that God put within man at first had a disposition to love and serve Him supremely.

II. Man morally IS BOUND TO REMAKE himself,

1. This is not an impossible work.

(1)Reason would suggest its possibility.

(2)The Bible implies its possibility.

(3)The means appointed indicate its possibility.There are moral means supplied by God in the Gospel for the very purpose. What are they? In one word, demonstrations of His infinite love for sinners. The one grand demonstration is the delivering up of "His only begotten Son" for the restoration of a guilty world.

2. This is an urgently important work. "Make you a new heart." To make fame, power, money, these are childish trifles compared with the work of making a new heart. Your well-being here and yonder, now and forever, is involved in this work.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. Soul reformation is an IMPERATIVE WORK.

1. It is practicable.

2. It is essential.(1) Man's present heart is his guilt and ruin. He has given himself the "stony heart," the heart that stands hard as granite against the Divine influences of love and truth.(2) All other reformations are worthless unless the heart be renewed.

II. Soul reformation is SELF-WORK. No one can do this work for you. You may build houses, plant farms, educate your children by proxy, but this is work that you yourself must do, and no one else. But how is it to be done? What is the way? Concentrated thought upon the infinite loving tenderness of that God against whom we have sinned, as demonstrated in the biography of Christ.

1. Such thought is adapted to the end. Ah! millions of stony hearts have been transformed into flesh as they have mused on Calvary.

2. Men have the power of giving this concentrated thought. All men are thinkers, and all men are thinking upon some subjects with more interest than on others.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
(with Ezekiel 36:26): —

I. The EXISTENCE of a moral heart in man. Every man is under the all-controlling power of some one disposition, and this disposition, like the physical heart, beats its influence in every vein and fibre of the spiritual nature. All the activities of man are streams from this fountain, branches from this root, pulsations from this organ.

II. The RENEWAL of the moral heart in man.

1. As a personal duty.(1) Man can alter his moral heart. Our moral dispositions are under the control of our thoughts, and our thoughts we can employ as we please.(2) Man has altered his moral heart. History abounds with instances of the churl becoming generous, the carnal spiritual, the profane reverent, the godless godly. Is it the duty of a dishonest man to become honest, of a false man to become true, a vicious man to become virtuous? Then it is the duty of a godless man to become godly. "Make you a new heart." This work done, all work is successful; this work neglected, all work is disastrous.

2. As a Divine gift. "A new heart also will I give you." There are two ways in which God bestows gifts on men. One way is irrespective of his choice and effort. Life itself and the necessary conditions of life are blessings that come to us without any effort on our part. But there are other blessings which He gives only on condition of human effort. He gives crops only to those who cultivate the fields and sow the grain, knowledge only to those who observe, investigate, and study. So He gives this new heart only to those who "consider their ways," repent, and believe the Gospel.

(Homilist.)

(with Ezekiel 36:26 and Psalm 51:10): — That these texts are closely related to each other must be obvious even on the most cursory examination. The same expressions occur in each of them, and they all clearly point to one and the same subject of momentous interest. A further attention, however, will show, that while the subject is the same in all, it is presented in a different light in each. In all, the one unvaried topic of regeneration is placed before us; but in passing from one to another, the point of view from which we look upon it is changed. The first comes from God the Lawgiver; the second comes from God the Redeemer; the third comes from man the suppliant. The first is the loud and authoritative voice of Majesty; the second is the still small voice of Mercy; the third is the humble, earnest voice of Entreaty.

I. THE PRECEPT. What place does it hold in this arrangement? What is its office? What good practical purposes does it serve?

1. This command has evidently made you conscious of your helplessness, and I call that a practical movement, a very practical movement — an invaluable result — and the indispensable prerequisite to all others. Would you ever have known how completely your senses are all sealed in spiritual sleep but for the authoritative voice of God? and even that, as you can testify, only like a dying echo, through your dream, crying, "Awake, awake, thou that sleepest."

2. It will not only lead you to think of your weakness and helplessness, but it will tend to show you how complete and thorough your impotency is, and to deepen the sense of this upon your soul. Go and try to make yourself a new heart. Labour to regenerate your own soul. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." And then tell your success. Break off every old habit, if you can. Give up every outward act of sin. Mortify the deeds of the body. But have you changed your heart? Have you given it new dispositions, new desires, new delights?

3. Besides evoking the testimony of experience and consciousness, the precept has power to touch the springs of conscience; and without this it would indeed be utterly inefficient. You may have been "alive without the precept once, but when the precept comes in spiritual power, sin revives, and you die" (Romans 7:9). You die to all pride, and peace, and hope. You learn two solemn truths, which, when taken together, gave you no rest till they mercifully shut you up to the only remedy. You know your helplessness; but you cannot sit down contented, for you know also your obligation and responsibility. You know your obligation but you do not become legalists, for you know also your helplessness. You feel that you cannot obey; but this does not set all at rest, because you feel that you must obey. You feel that you must obey; but neither does this settle all, for you also feel that you cannot.

II. THE PROMISE.

1. It is obvious that the wisdom of God is wonderfully exhibited in bringing in the promise at this precise point. If it had come sooner, the soul would not have been prepared to receive it. If it had come later, the soul would have been already given over to hopeless despair.

2. How is the grace of God adored by the fainting soul, when, after the conflict with the precept, the promise comes brightly into view. Like the same law given to Moses a second time, not amidst thunderings and lightnings, and darkness and tempest, but amidst light, and peace, and favour, all God's goodness passing by before His servant, sheltered now in the cleft of the rock; so here, the preceptive form, which caused the tempest and the terror in the soul, being all done away, the very same substance, in all its integrity, is restored, but now beaming in the light and lustre of a free and a gracious promise, "A new heart will I give unto you, a new spirit will I put within you."

3. But the grace of God is still more wonderfully glorified by the consideration, that, while this is the very thing which we need, and which God offers to bestow upon us, it is also the very thing which we are bound to render unto Him. Grace abounded when, sympathisingly, He gave me that new heart which I was unable to make; but grace much more abounded when, forgivingly, He gave me that new heart which I was bound to make, and guilty in my inability to make it.

4. And now the sovereignty of Divine grace can be obscured or concealed no longer. This also the believer is taught to feel and to acknowledge by reason of his previous discipline under the precept. In learning his obligation and responsibility, he at the same time necessarily learned the majesty and kingly authority of God.

III. THE PRAYER. It appropriately comes last, because it is grounded on, and takes its warrant from the promise, pleading the fulfilment of the promise that thereby the object of the precept may be gained. The prayer, when offered, grows out of the promise; the prayer, when answered, satisfies the precept. The precept teaches man that he is helpless; the promise tells him there is help; the prayer secures the help. The precept teaches man that he is responsible and guilty; the promise tells him there is forgiveness; the prayer obtains the pardon. The precept teaches man God's authority; the promise tells of God's grace; the prayer tries and tests God's sufficiency. The precept teaches man his dependence; the promise declares dependence in God well placed; the prayer puts dependence on God accordingly. The precept teaches man humility; the promise gives man hope; the prayer shows man's trust. The precept gives, scope for God's righteous justice; the promise gives scope for God's faithfulness; the prayer gives scope for man's faith. In all cases, the prayer is necessary to complete the cycle; and if the precept and the promise do but graciously exercise the soul, the prayer will and cannot but follow. To the prayerless, therefore, there is here very clear and simple ground for self-examination and self-condemnation. You have only to plead with God to do all the work to your hands. Will you cast away eternal joy and court eternal agony by refusing that?

(H. Martin.)

The text connects itself closely with a topic much debated among theologians, namely, what man can do, or cannot do, in regard to overcoming the bias of a corrupt nature, and making himself meet for the kingdom of God. This meetness consists in a changed heart, a renewed mind and spirit; and I shall try to show you that, in this Book of Ezekiel, we have this great mystery brought down to the level of our human intelligence in a way which, whatever its aspects towards God, puts the fact of human duty and human accountableness on a foundation which nothing can disturb. There are three principal passages in Ezekiel bearing upon this subject, which must always be read and considered together. The first is in the text, where this inward change is made the subject of a precept: "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." The second is in the eleventh chapter, where the change spoken of is made the object of a promise: "And I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh." The third is in the thirty-sixth chapter, where, in relation to this promise of a new heart and a new spirit, it is intimated that the subject is one for earnest prayer: "Yet for this will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."

I. THE PRECEPT, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." Now what place, in the Divine arrangements for our conversion, are precepts of this kind supposed to occupy? What do they mean? What do they assume? What practical effect have they, or ought they to have, upon our moral conduct and convictions? They are to awaken us to a conviction of our helplessness, they are to reveal to us our souls' danger, they are to show to us the deep seatedness of our depravity, they are to break in upon the slumbers of the natural conscience — in a word, they are to set us upon making an effort. The effort may be feeble and imperfect and unpromising, but still an effort it is, and an effort such as, in the case of any worldly interest being endangered, we should assuredly make, however slight the chances of success. What man on seeing a huge crag just loosening over his head, or seeing flames issue from his neighbour's dwelling house, would omit to use such means as were within his reach, on the plea, "What good would it do?" However apparently impracticable therefore, precepts of the kind contained in the text are useful, if only as showing that, as far as regards ourselves, they are impracticable. They naturally set us upon thinking how the need they have discovered may be supplied, and the disorders of our moral condition may be corrected, and the ruin and the death and the helplessness and the condemnation may be turned from us or taken away. When our Lord ordered the paralytic man to take up his bed and walk, or the blind man to look and say if he saw aright, He seemed to be telling them to do that which was impossible. And if they had thought so, and had made no effort, the evils they were suffering from would have remained untaken away. But, concurrently with the command went forth an impulse upon the souls of the men that the command was of God, and that anything enjoined by Him must be possible. And it is precisely under this aspect that we are to view the command, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." You say you cannot make it. I say there is a sense in which you can make it, just as much as at the bidding of Christ a man was able to stretch forth a withered hand. A command from God, we must always remember, is, in its own nature, an appeal to human accountableness. It forecloses all excuses. It disallows any possible ground of exemption. It assumes that there is in every one of us a certain power of compliance, and therefore convicts of obstinacy and disobedience the man who does not turn that power to account. And the like principle applies to the text, and all others of kindred import.

II. THE PRECEPT VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF THE PROMISE. This same Ezekiel who is instructed to call to the house of Israel, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit," also has it in charge to deliver as God's kind assurance to the people, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." Everything God does, whether in the material or moral world, is characterised by harmony, proportion, order, law. "As our day, so our strength"; as the command to run, so the grace to draw; as the exhortation "Make you a new heart and a new spirit," so the provision of all needful agencies by means of which this new creation is to be made. Here then we see how much of light is shed upon the Divine dealings with us, when we join the promise on to the precept; when we are brought to see that God never exhorts us to do a thing without putting the means of compliance within our own reach and power. This viewing the two things in juxtaposition will be found to rid us at once of a whole host of speculative difficulties and objections, which might have attached to the precept if it had stood alone. "Make you a new heart" — change the hue of AEthiop's skin — turn back the whole current of your likes and dislikes, and bid the tide set with equal vehemence the contrary way — this is a hard saying, some will say, hard, and even something more — impossible. Admitted. "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." That which is impossible to the precept is possible to the promise. We are never allowed to view these two great facts of the moral world apart. There are two great truths — their authority alike over the human conscience, and their claims alike to a rational belief. And these are: first, that the origin, as well as the effective agency, in the work of our salvation is to be traced to God only; and the other that, in connection with that work, and as morally furthering that work, much has to be done by the sinner himself.

III. THE PRECEPT AND PROMISE TOGETHER CONSIDERED IN THEIR RELATION TO PRAYER. Ezekiel had been commissioned to give the injunction, "Make you a new heart"; and a little after he is told to add that word of consolation, "A new heart also will I give you": yet lest the promise should inspire presumption, or the precept should lead to despair, he adds, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them, said the Lord God." The precept speaks of death; the promise points to life; the prayer is the permitted signal for the resurrection when challenging the power of the Eternal Spirit to "breathe upon dead souls that they may live." The precept shows us that we have work to do; the promise evidences that we have not the power to do it; the prayer suggests the use of certain instituted means, in order that God may do it for us. The precept is the will of God commanding; the promise is the goodness of God encouraging; the prayer is helplessness pleading at His footstool with eyes fastened on the mercy seat, because afraid to look upon the throne. In a word, they form, in combination, a holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity. For the precept is the Sovereign Father of the universe enjoining obedience. The promise is the Son of His love entreating that the offender may be spared. The prayer is the indwelling Spirit within us waking up the heart to devotion, and showing us both how to wrestle and prevail with God. Wherefore, that ye may be able to keep the precept, pray; that ye may have part in the promise, pray; that ye may have the spirit of effectual fervent prayer, pray. Keep the end of all in view — "A new heart and a new spirit," a changed judgment and restored affections, a submitted will and a heavenly mind.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. IT WHAT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE HEART AND SPIRIT. We are conscious of the power of perception, reason, memory, and volition. These are essential properties of the soul. We are likewise sensible of the affections, or those free, voluntary, moral exercises, which are the powers, or properties, of the heart. When the Scriptures speak of the heart as being changed, or made new, they always mean the affections, or volitions, or free, moral exercises. To these they uniformly attach praise, or blame, because they are free and voluntary.

II. WHAT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE NEW HEART AND NEW SPIRIT. These are new and right exercises, or new and right affections. They are those free, moral exercises, which are in conformity to the revealed will of God, and sanctified by His Spirit. As the heart consists in voluntary exercises and affections, these in the impenitent sinner are wrong, and must be changed in order to be right. They must be withdrawn from improper objects, and directed in a right channel. They must be withheld from all undue attachment to this vain world, and placed on God, and heavenly things, as the supreme good. The general tenor of the life must likewise be in obedience to the Divine commands. When any sinner by true repentance returns to these good exercises, he has a new heart and a new spirit, and is become a new creature. His old, wrong affections are changed into new, right affections, and his good exercises in the obedience of his life prove him to be a new man.

III. HOW SINNERS CAN MAKE TO THEMSELVES THIS NEW HEART. The first steps are to cast away all transgression, to repent of every sin, to forsake every evil and false way, and then enter upon a life of new obedience. Sinners must first cease to do evil, and then learn to do well. Neither must they be content with external obedience. They must withdraw their love, or undue attachment, from this vain world and set their affections on things above. As the new heart consists in new, right affections, and in those free, moral exercises which are agreeable to the will of God; therefore to form this, every sinner must abandon those desires and voluntary exercises of the mind, heart, and life which are wrong and forbidden, and enter upon those that are right and commanded by God. If anyone do this with a sincere desire after new and constant obedience, he will by the blessing of God have a new heart and a right spirit, and enjoy the evidence of it in his own breast. Lessons —

1. We infer the greatness, the urgency, and reasonableness of the work.(1) The greatness and urgency of it appear from God's requiring it at the hand of sinners on penalty of losing eternal life.(2) God requires it also as a reasonable service. For it is every way reasonable in itself, that rational beings should turn the free, moral exercises of their minds and hearts toward their heavenly Father and Benefactor, — set their affections on those objects most worthy of their love, and walk in obedience to those commands which were designed for their greatest good.

2. If the making of a new heart consist principally in casting away all transgressions by sincere repentance, and entering upon a new life, then resolutions this way are the first steps to become really good, and ought to be constant exercises in order to continue so.

3. If the heart consist in free, moral exercises, as the Scriptures view it, then every man must be active in his own conversion, or regeneration, or in obtaining a meetness for the enjoyment of God.

4. We see on this view of the subject a constant call for active exertion, watchfulness, and circumspection, and also a foundation for that spiritual warfare represented by Paul.

5. No one has more moral goodness, or holiness, than he has good, or holy, exercises.

6. The work of becoming and continuing good both in heart and life lies with every one of you to perform for yourselves under the assistance and grace of God.

(Pitt Clarke.)

Manton says: "A wolf may be scared from his prey, but yet he keepeth his preying and devouring nature." He has not lost his taste for lambs, though he was obliged to drop the one which he had seized. So a sinner may forego his beloved lust, and yet remain as truly a sinner as before. He gives up the drink for fear of losing his situation, or dying of disease, but he would be at his liquor again if he dared. The fear of hell whips him off some favourite vice, and yet his heart pines for it, and in imagination he gloats over it. While this is the case, the man in the sight of God is as his heart is: the muzzled wolf is still a wolf, the silenced swearer is still profane in heart, the lewd thinker is still an adulterer. Something is done when a wolf is scared or a transgressor driven out of his evil ways, yet nothing is done which will effectually change the wolf or renew the ungodly heart. A frightened sinner is a sinner still. Like the frightened dog, he will return to his vomit; and like the sow that was washed, he will wallow in the mire again as soon as opportunity offers. "Ye must be born again": — this is the only effectual cure for sin.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Why will ye die, O house of Israel?
I. SEVERAL IMPORTANT TRUTHS ARE HERE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.

1. That all unrepenting sinners will assuredly die.

2. That God is extremely reluctant to execute the fatal sentence.

3. That sinners may yet, if they will, escape eternal death.

II. WHY WILL YE DIE?

1. Is it because you seriously believe that the pleasures of sin, with death at the end of them, are better than holiness, with heaven for its reward?

2. Is it because you have satisfied yourself that the warnings of the Bible are without foundation? that there is, in reality, no death of the soul hereafter, no hell for the ungodly, no heaven for the righteous?

3. Is it because, while you profess to believe the Bible, you still inconsistently doubt whether sin will end in everlasting death?

4. Is it because there are in the world multitudes as careless, or as wicked, as yourself; and you think it impossible that so many should all be in the way to destruction? In answer to this reason, let us ask ourselves, What is all the world to us in this matter? God speaks to us individually.

5. Is it because death and judgment seem to be far off; and therefore, although you do not wish to perish, yet you suppose it is time enough yet to turn and repent? If so, I must plainly tell you that you are, to all intents and purposes, choosing eternal death. You have no real intention to turn to God at a future day: you do but deceive your own soul.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

? —

I. WE ARE NOT SETTLED IN OUR RELIGIOUS FAITH. We do not know whether the Bible is true or not. We do not know whether Christ is God or not. Are you, in the passage of the years, getting any nearer a decision? Why do you not go into this subject, and go through it? If your child be sick, and you do not know whether it is just a common cold or the diphtheria, you pursue the doctor until you find out. Now, I do not blame you for not becoming Christians, but I do blame you for taking neither the one side nor the other. Through all these years you have been in a fog. You know the steamship Atlantic went on the rocks in a fog; you know that the Arctic and the Vesta struck in a fog; you know that only a little while ago the steamship Schiller went down with nearly all on board in a fog; and it is amid the same kind of circumstances that some of you are going to shipwreck. Did Darwin, or Tyndall, or Herbert Spencer ever help a man to die? When the surges of death rise mountain high, would you rather be in this staunch frigate of the Gospel — a frigate of ten thousand tons — or in the leaky yawl of scepticism?

II. Another reason why men do not come into the kingdom of Christ is BECAUSE THEY ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE PRESENT IS OF MORE IMPORTANCE THAN THE FUTURE. I have noticed that everything depends upon the standpoint you take when you look at everything. We stand so deep down in the "now" that we cannot see into the great "hereafter." If we could stand between the two worlds, and look that way and this way, then we might make a more intelligent comparison as to the value of these two worlds — this and the next. In other words: the farthest on we can get in this life — yea, the very last point of our earthly existence — will be the best point in which to estimate the value of these two worlds. And so I call upon all the dying population of Christendom, I call upon all the thousands who are now departing this life and I ask them to give testimony in this matter. They say: "My head on this wet pillow, I look one way and I look the other way. I see Time: I see Eternity. How brief the one: how long the other. I never saw it so before. Hand-breadths against leagues. Seconds against cycles. I put my wasted and trembling hand — my left hand — on the world that I am leaving, and I put my wasted and trembling hand — my right hand — on the world that I am entering, and for the first time I see how small is the one and how vast is the other."

III. Another reason why men do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ and become Christian, is BECAUSE THEY ARE OF THE OPINION THAT THE MATTERS OF THE SOUL ARE NOT URGENT, PRESSING, AND IMMINENT. They have their reception day. They say: "Let Business enter." Business enters, is interviewed, passes out. They say: "Let Pleasure enter." Pleasure enters, is interviewed, passes out. They say: "Let Worldly Knowledge enter." Worldly Knowledge enters, is interviewed, passes out. After thirty or forty years, they say: "Let Religion enter" And they look; but religion has got tired of waiting, and is gone. That queen of heaven, standing in the ante-chamber of the heart, ought to have been received first. Her first tap on the door ought to have brought the response, "Come in — come in."

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Homilist.
The question implies:

1. That man is made to act from reason.

2. That man is amenable to his Maker for the reasons that influence him.

3. That notwithstanding man's rational and responsible nature, he is pursuing a course of self-destruction.

I. THE DECREES OF GOD DO NOT RENDER YOUR RUIN NECESSARY. But does not Paul teach that God makes vessels for dishonour as well as vessels for honour? No. All that he avers is, that He could do so. And it is to the glory of God's benevolence to assert, that whilst He could make and organise creatures for misery, He has never done so. Let the naturalist search through all the endless species of animal life, let him take the microscope, and let him find one single creature amongst the smallest, and say, This little creature was evidently made to suffer, was organised for misery — is a vessel built for dishonour. No, God could, but He does not.

II. Your SINFUL CONDITION DOES NOT RENDER YOUR RUIN NECESSARY. Why is this? Because the Gospel makes provision for you in your present state. There lies a man on the bed of suffering. A malignant and painful disease has done its work on his constitution; in a few hours, unless some remedy come, he must breathe his last. A skilful physician enters the room; he has in his hand a little medicine, which if taken will inevitably restore him. It is offered to him, pressed on him, and he has yet power to take it. Need that man die? If he refuse the remedy he must die, but since the remedy is offered, and he has the power to take it, his death is needless. It is thus with the sinner, he is infected with the malady of sin, he is on the margin of death; but here is the remedy, the Great Physician of Souls is at his side, offering an infallible antidote.

III. THE EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH YOU ARE PLACED DO NOT RENDER YOUR RUIN NECESSARY. Bad thoughts may be conveyed to your mind, bad impressions made on your hearts, but they need not harm you; you have a power to transmute them into spiritual nourishment. Remember that some of the most eminent saints that ever lived have been amongst most trying and tempting circumstances. Remember that the more trying your circumstances may be, the more corrupt the society in which you live, the more need there is for you to carry out noble principles.

IV. THE CONDITION ON WHICH SALVATION IS OFFERED DOES NOT RENDER YOUR RUIN NECESSARY. "He that believeth shall be saved," — "He that believeth hath everlasting life." Now, belief as an act is one of the most simple. It is as natural to believe an evident truth as it is to see. Moreover, man has a strong propensity to believe. His credulity is his curse. It is this that has given to the world those monstrous systems of error under which it has been groaning for ages. But what must we believe in order to be saved? If it be responded, The facts of the Gospel, I ask, Are there any facts attested by clearer or more potent evidence? Or, if it be said, The principles of the Gospel, then we declare that those principles are moral axioms, and recommend themselves to the intuitions and felt necessities of the human soul. Or, should it be replied, It is faith in the Author of the Gospel — the living, loving, personal Christ — then we ask, What character is so adapted to enlist your faith and inspire your confidence?

(Homilist.)

I. WHAT DEATH IS HERE INTENDED?

1. It is not the dissolution of the body; that is not the death here referred to, for how manifest it is that it is not subject to the will of man!

2. It is the ruin of the soul, or the inheritance of everlasting woe.

II. IMPENITENT MEN DIE THIS DEATH.

1. The Scriptures in the strongest manner assert that "except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

2. The Scriptures go further, and represent impenitent men as determined upon this death. When the voice of Calvary speaks out in tenderness and love, when that voice comes forth from every wound and is heard in every groan of our dying Lord, calling on them, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?" — if the sinner still travels onward, and turns not at the voice of mercy, is there no wilfulness in it?

3. They form a character for perdition, knowing that none other than a holy character can possibly fit them for heaven.

III. UPON WHAT PRINCIPLE DO THEY ACT IN THUS CONDUCTING THEMSELVES?

1. It is not because God delights in the death of a sinner. Do you think the father has any pleasure in the act by which he discards his incorrigible son; the son with whom he has reasoned, and wept, and prayed; the son before whom he has spread all the evils of his conduct, and the inevitable ruin to which it must bring him?

2. It is not because of any difficulty on the part of God. There was a difficulty, and there is a controversy now between you and God; but then that controversy may be settled; and through the blood of Jesus Christ the difficulty is removed out of the way to enable you to return.

3. It is not because there is any difficulty in the revelation of the salvation of God, or in the atonement for sin. The Bible is represented as a lamp to our feet; like the sun, it shines on our path, so that the guilty sinner may, from the Word of God, from the fulness and completeness of the revelation, see with perfect distinctness the way in which a sinner may again be brought from his wanderings and received into the favour of God. Nor is there any deficiency in the atonement.

4. It is not because sufficient pains have not been taken with man. Were there no pains taken on the part of God to save men from going down to perdition when He gave up His own Son to die for them? Again, has not the Son of God taken pains, in leaving the glory which He had with the Father, and coming down, down into the degradation of taking our nature upon Him? Did Jesus Christ take no pains for your salvation? — He who, when on earth, was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Then has the Holy Ghost taken no pains in inspiring holy men to write this wonderful Book, in striving with you, in following you up year after year, in meeting you in the house of God, in meeting you in the way that you go and in your business, in striking solemn thoughts upon your mind, and arresting your attention, and causing you to think of death, and of judgment, and of eternity?

5. If you die this death it will not be because God's commands are unreasonable. They are, Repent, believe in His Son, and live a holy life. Is it unreasonable that God should call on the sinner to stop in a single moment; that he should not take another step in the wrong way?

6. It is not because the will of the sinner is forced or constrained that he therefore dies. Did you ever do anything in your life against your will? Is it possible for you to do anything contrary to your own will? I do not ask you whether you have done anything contrary to your feelings, anything different from what you liked; but whether you have done what was contrary to your own will? If the sinner then is not constrained, if we act according to our own wishes, and make up our own minds, then how true is the position I have taken, that men die this death, because they will die it! What would you say of a man who should set out from London, saying he intended to go to Birmingham, and with a distinct knowledge of the geography of the country, should take his seat on a coach that was going to Dover? And what, if when he was told by the coachman again and again, "This road leads to Dover, and every mile brings us nearer and nearer to Dover" — what would you think of him if he said, "Well, I hope before I arrive there, somehow or other, to be brought to Birmingham"? You would say that the man was not acting according to good sense, and you would say right. Well, what is the condition of the sinner? What is his conduct? He is travelling wilfully along a road which he knows will not lead him to heaven. And this is the language which God addresses to him, "Why will ye die?" Why do you go the wrong road?

(1)Is it brave? It may be foolhardy, but it is not brave.

(2)Is it right to do so? You know in your conscience it is not.

(3)Is it good to act thus? Is it good to throw away the soul that can live beyond the stars? Is it good to turn your back on all the means of grace and to throw heaven away?

(J. Patten.)

? — Imagine yourselves amidst Alpine scenery. Yonder is a broad road which leads to the edge of a precipice — the precipice overhangs a deep dark gulf. Out of the broad road there is a path — a narrow path winding about among the rocks — difficult of ascent, but terminating in a region of Eden-like beauty. A band of travellers, thoughtless and light-hearted, are pressing along the highway, and nearing the edge of the abyss. There are barriers set up — there are beacons raised — there are warnings given — there are guides close by earnestly advising them to turn aside, and climb up the narrow footpath. But while a few are persuaded to do so, the multitude, in spite of all which is done to prevent it, press onwards and reach the edge, and fall over, one by one, into the yawning depth — and even their ruin does not suffice to warn their followers. The rest rush to the awful margin, and sink into that enormous grave! You say this is unparalleled folly. No, not unparalleled. Folly equal — nay, greater — is commonly displayed by the children of men.

I. THE NATURE OF YOUR RUIN.

1. It is the death of pleasure — the end of all delight — the putting out of the last taper of enjoyment, so that nothing is left but deep, dense darkness — the quenching of all those vain joys (the only joys the ungodly can ever know of) which are likened in Scripture to the crackling of thorns under the pot.

2. It is the death of hope. Everlasting punishment! It cannot mean that after a while the soul, cleansed by penal fires, shall recover its purity. It cannot mean that out of the depths of hell it shall mount up to heaven.

3. It is the death of love. "Hateful and hating one another," are words which will apply more emphatically to the future than the present state of sinners — that is the most tremendous condition to which creatures can be reduced. To that depth of wretchedness unsaved sinners will be hereafter reduced.

4. It involves exclusion from heaven, from that world of which Scripture gives us such bright and attractive visions: from "our Father's house"; from "the city of habitation"; from "the temple of God and the Lamb"; from "paradise"; from "the tree, and from the fountain of life"; from those regions where "there is no curse — neither shall there be any more pain."

5. It involves exclusion from the society of the really great and good, God's true nobility, "the innumerable company of angels"; the great cloud of witnesses; "the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven"; "the spirits of the just made perfect"; "the glorious company, of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs."

6. It involves exclusion from the Father of an infinite Majesty"; "from His holy, true, and everlasting Son"; "the King of glory"; "also the Holy Ghost the Comforter"; "Depart from Me."

II. THE AUTHOR OF YOUR RUIN. The fact of the sinner's self-destruction is apparent from —

1. The character of God. He is a God of truth and justice. Would this be true if the final destruction of the sinner depended not on himself, but was the result of an arbitrary and irresistible decree? if immortal souls were the helpless and hapless victims of an iron-handed destiny? But God is merciful as well as just. To suppose after this that any man's eternal destruction does not lie at his own door — but is the consequence of the Divine will arbitrarily exercised is monstrous.

2. The character of the Gospel. Look at the Babe of Bethlehem, and the Man of Sorrows — at Him who wept over Jerusalem — at the agonised Sufferer in the Garden — at the Crucified One.

3. The character of man. There is a conscience in man. Conscience would have no meaning if man were not free, if his actions were not free, his determinations free, his thoughts free.

4. The character of his future condition. That condition will be a condition of punishment. What does punishment imply? Guilt. The righteous may be oppressed, afflicted, persecuted, but they cannot be punished; only the guilty can be punished. That which God calls punishment, which the Bible calls punishment, must come as the fruit of sin, the offspring of guilt. Therefore, the sinner must incur it himself.

III. THE REASON OF YOUR RUIN. Most of you, in reply to the question of the text — Why will ye die? — would have to say, Because we love the pleasures of the world more than the joys of eternal life; because we desire the approbation of men more than the honour that cometh from God; because we covet the possession of earth more than the inheritance of heaven; because we are addicted to the ways of sin, and are not disposed to break off our evil habits; because we have been living in impenitence and unbelief, and have no mind to change our course. Thus you destroy yourselves for the sake of the world, for the sake of sin. The guilt, folly, shame, and ignominy of the suicide belong to you. To destroy oneself is considered so monstrous an act that the man who commits it is generally pronounced insane. When not insane, when the case is brought in felo de se, the miserable mortal is treated even in death as an outlaw, and his remains are cast forth with every circumstance of dishonour and disgrace, as no longer within the pale of humanity. In the great inquest of the Last Day, the finally impenitent will come under a verdict of wilful insanity; will be regarded as having acted the part of the madman, with all the culpability of the voluntary self-assassin, and will therefore be cast beyond the bounds of the holy city, flung into the pit of Gehenna, to mingle with the refuse of the universe.

(John Stoughton.)

I. THE NATURE OF ETERNAL DEATH.

1. A state of conscious existence.

2. A state of deprivation.

3. A state of hideousness.

II. THE QUESTION PROPOSED.

1. There is no necessity for it in the nature of God.

2. There is no necessity in the will of man.

3. There is no necessity on account of our circumstances.

(W. W. Whythe.)

? —

I. WHAT IS THIS WORD WITH WHICH MY TEXT ENDS? for upon that the whole stress of the matter evidently depends: "Why will ye die?" You have bent over the dying, or over the dead; you have watched that face, which used to speak to you with such meaning, gathering blankness and darkness; you have seen those eyes, which once sparkled upon you with intelligence, become glazed, and dead, and fixed. That is death. We all know what it is; but whose death is that? What are the first words they speak when it is all over — when the blankness and nothingness have succeeded to anxiety? "He is gone!" Those are the words: "He is gone!" Then it was not he that died! It was something belonging to him which underwent a change; but it was not the man that died. That affected the body; but it did not affect the person. We do not say that when a brute dies beneath our eyes; we do not attribute to a brute that sort of doubleness — that he should be in one place, and the carcass in another; and therefore, when this text says, "Why will ye die?" it does not allude to the death of the body — it does not allude to that of which I have just been speaking; but I have been speaking of that that I might take it for an example — that I might take it for a guide to that more mysterious and less well-known thing to which the text does allude. We have already spoken of this person, this personality, this he, this I, this you, which does not die upon the bed of death, which is not crushed by the power of the accident, which remains and exists on. Now what is this? We never consider the brute creature, the poor dumb animal, as we express it, responsible; we do not consider that he, or it, rather, can give an account; we do not consider, in any proper sense of the word, that it can do right, or can do wrong. But the moment you get to a human body, whether that human body is man, woman, or child, if that human body is only in possession of reason and of sense, you cannot divest yourself of that idea of responsibility If he does right — I am not saying now whether he is right or wrong in this which follows, but — there is a certain sort of self-congratulation follows upon it, and he knows he has done right. If he does wrong, supposing him to be an ordinary man, and not absolutely, blinded by the power of habitual sin — if he does wrong in the common and broad acceptation of the word, his conscience in some measure accuses him.

II. Now, this may lead us to know and to feel, as indeed all mankind of sound mind have known and have felt, that THIS PERSONALITY OF WHICH WE SPEAK IS A LASTING AND ENDURING THING, which shaft give an account. You cannot deny it. Well, then, let us go back, if you please, to this bed of death, of which we spoke just now. Let us carry onward that scene a little further. Let us pass — it is a remarkable sentence of the greatest, of English preachers — "from the freshness and the fulness of the cheeks of childhood to the horror and loathsomeness of a three days burial." And what do we see there? The body is broken up; it is become a seething mass of foul and degraded and loathsome life — a life not its own — a life which did not belong to its beautiful and harmonious construction. Its parts are gone, or are going, each to their way; the solid to the dust of the earth, the liquid to the mighty ocean. It is dispersed; it is passed away. "It is sown a corruptible body." It is sown in shame and in contempt. Though it was, perhaps, the dearest of things on earth to us a few days ago, we have put it out of our way; we have buried our dead out of our sight. And that is the death of the body. Now, is there not something very analogous to that — I mean very like it, something which follows the same rules — in the death of man's immortal spirit? But what is the death of the spirit? Can you not easily conceive it? Is it not obvious to the simplest of our thoughts, that the spirit of man may, and, alas! does, fall into disharmony with all these its powers, just like the beautiful organs of the body may fall out with one another; that the spirit may present, in its way and in its condition, something like the terrible and loathsome scene which we just now witnessed with regard to the body after death? But then, notice all this remarkable difference. The body, as I have said, falls asunder; God shall build it up again. For the present it perishes; but there can be no cessation, there can be no syncope, in the life of the spirit; the spirit must live on, in the midst of this death — must exist on, perhaps I should rather say, and for this night keep the word "living" and the word "life" to their glorious and more proper meaning. The spirit exists on, then, divided against itself; miserable, and in discord; all its powers wasted, all its energies spent in self-remorse.

III. Now comes another most important point to our present consideration, and it is this — HOW CAME ABOUT THIS DEATH? What has it to do with man's will? Now, these at first sight are very difficult questions, and they are questions with which it would have been utterly impossible for us to deal had not the Holy Spirit been given to us to enable us to deal with them. "God created man upright." He created him to follow out the intention of his spirit gifted with judgment and the body; of both of which we have been now speaking. But God did not bind him to his liberty in this way, and to his joy, and to his ultimate end, of reaching after and getting to glory hereafter. He left him free; and this is one of the greatest dignities with which our nature was gifted of God — that it was not made like any tribe of the brute creation, always to run in the same channel, to be incapable of advance or improvement; but it was made free to stand and free to fall. What lay before it was an object of adoration, reverence, and obedience; and with temptation before it, and God's grace ready to help, man was then put into a state of trial, and man fell. Death came into the world by sin. Sin shifted the centre of man's soul. Before, he could have gone on revolving round that centre in beautiful obedience; after sin, he has become, in the technical sense of the word, eccentric. He now revolves no longer round God, his proper centre, but he has sought an orbit of his own, and this leads him into disarrangement and disagreement, and all those things of which we have been speaking, as ending and issuing in the death of the soul. Well, then, you will say to me, if this is the case, what has the will of God to do with it? How can this be said to us, and how can God plead with us in the text, "Why will ye die?" If death came into the world by sin, if the death of the body is the result of sin — a result which neither you nor I nor anyone can avoid — how can it be said of the death of the soul, "Why will ye die?" Is not that a necessary result of sin too? Now we are come to the point, you see, of these words having been necessarily spoken, and the whole truth of this chapter necessarily written to a people in covenant with God. God has provided a way out of this death. It has pleased Him not to provide any way out of natural, corporeal, bodily death. "If Christ be in you," says the apostle, "the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life, because of righteousness." There is just the distinction. God has bound upon us all death according to the flesh; but He has not bound upon us all death according to the spirit, although it is our own state by nature, out of which we must be helped, if we are to get out of it at all, and that help He has graciously given us. Christ died that we might live; He lives that we might live forever. He has become the head of our nature; He has become to us the source of grace and of help, the help of the Holy Spirit of God, to overcome our evil dispositions, to help us to regulate our tempers, to glorify and adorn Him in our station in life, to be better men, better fathers, better husbands, better brothers and sisters, better citizens, better in everything than we were before.

IV. WHAT IS THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT? Wherever you live in this world, and about whatever you are employed in this world, there is a life put in the power of the spirit of this kind; there is no situation in life that excludes from it. You must seek it, in fact, in your ordinary occupations. There is the first thing. God will be found of each one of us in the path of life that He marks out for us. He gives us, it is most true — and blessed be His name for it! — He gives us such days as this, when we can assemble together to hear of these things; but He does not give us the invitation to come, and draw near, and live on this day only. He gives us, again, times of sorrow, times of solemn thought, times of bereavement; and I believe that when we get to the other side of the water, and look back upon the map of our present course, we shall see that these were our green places, and these were our still waters of comfort, and these were our recallings to Him. But these are not the only times when He calls us. Every day, and all day long, He is calling us. The mechanic who lifts his arm to do his ordinary work — in every lifting of that arm is God pleading, "Why wilt thou die?" The man who goes forth to his daily labour by the light of His glorious sun - every beam that is shed upon him pleads with him, Why wilt thou die?" The man who lies down to sleep at night, wherever he be — his preservation in those hours of slumber — the sweet rest that he obtains — is but another pleading with him, "Why wilt thou die?" And so we might go on through all the common pathways of ordinary life, grimed as they are with labour, looked down upon as mean, and considered by some as having nothing to do with this matter, and we might show you that they are all means of grace. Now, it needs very little reminding of mine to go on with such considerations as these, and to say that this life of your spirit consists, in the very first place, in the continual recognition of God by you. God must be the centre round whom your spirits are to revolve in the ordinary orbit of life. You must look at His will; that will must be a guide to you. You must look at His word; that word must be a lamp to your feet, and a light to your paths.

(Dean Alford.)

The text is brief but comprehensive, and most affecting; and the question which it contains is strikingly illustrative of the tenderness and compassion of Him who condescends in mercy to ask it. Surely there is in it something which ought to excite our admiration of Divine condescension, and to call forth from our hearts songs of grateful and adoring praise.

I. "WHY WILL YE DIE?" Is it because you have concluded that God the Father is unwilling to save you? Who is this lying in Gethsemane's garden prostrate on the ground, whose sweat is, as it were, great drops of blood? It is the Son of God. And who is that crucified on the heights of Calvary, "whose long reiterated cry bespeaks His soul's deep agony"? Who can the Sufferer be, when the sun refuses to behold His dying torment, and the rocks are rent, and the graves give up their dead, and earth is convulsed to its inmost centre? It is the Son of God! What stronger or more affecting pledge could He have given of His love to sinners, and of His desire to rescue them from death and hell, than when, in order to deliver them, He poured the vials of His wrath on the head of His only, His beloved, His eternal Son? Can you steel your hearts against such tenderness? Can you still live without God, without hope, without prayer, without concern about your souls, though they must very soon enter the world of spirits and eternity — share either the bliss of that house with many mansions, or the unutterable woe of the damned in hell? Can you any longer resist the Father's merciful inquiry, "Why will ye die?"

II. IS NOT JESUS AN ALMIGHTY SAVIOUR, THE VERY SAVIOUR WHOM YOU NEED? You have nothing to bring to God as the procuring price of your forgiveness. If this were the case, we would pronounce your condition hopeless. But the ground of pardon and acceptance is the active and passive obedience, the doing and dying of the Son of God. He is revealed to you as the very Saviour who can meet all the exigencies of your case, who has a fulness of merit to justify and of grace to sanctify. Why, then, will ye die? The burden of your guilt may be very heavy, but it is not too heavy for the hand of an Almighty Saviour to take it off, for He has an arm that is full of strength. Your stains may be very dark and very deep, but not too deep for the blood of the Lamb to remove them, and to make you whiter than the snow. Your fetters may be very strong and very tightly bound, but not too tightly to prevent Emmanuel from executing the very purpose of His mission and death, in setting the lawful captive free. Your disease may be deeply seated, it may be very inveterate, but not too inveterate to yield to the healing virtue of the Balm in Gilead, and the restoring skill of the Physician there.

III. ARE YE NOT MOST CORDIALLY INVITED TO COME TO CHRIST AND LIVE? Is degrading vassalage a feature of your natural state — are you naturally led captive of Satan at his will? Then are you invited to take the remedy and live, for it is written, "Turn to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope, for even today do I declare that I will render to you double." Is pollution and depravity a feature in your case? Then are you invited to take the remedy and live, for it is written, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." Is it a feature in your case that you are burdened with a load of guilt, and ready to sink beneath its pressure down to the lowest hell? Then are ye invited to take the remedy and live, for it is written, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Are poverty, and nakedness, and blindness features in your case? Then are ye invited to take the remedy and live, for again it is written, "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." Poor sinners! Is it a feature in your case that through grace you are willing to be saved? Then are ye invited to take the remedy and live, for it is written, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Why then will ye die?

IV. DOES NOT THE SPIRIT, BY HIS COMMON OPERATIONS, STRIVE WITH YOU TO INDUCE YOU TO CLOSE WITH THE OFFERED SAVIOUR AND LIVE? Have. you never had momentary convictions at least that all was not right with you; that your religion was but a cold, heartless, dead profession, and that your hopes (if hopes you at all entertained), instead of being based on the immovable foundation laid in Zion, were like the spider's web, at the mercy of every wind that blows? The Spirit was then striving with you, although you grieved and quenched Him. Perhaps He is striving with you at this moment. We implore you, resist not His operations — stifle not the convictions He imparts — grieve Him not away, for each time that you quench the Spirit is just a step in advance towards the commission of that sin which is never forgiven.

V. ARE YE, AFTER MATURE DELIBERATION, FINALLY AND FIRMLY RESOLVED TO REJECT ALL THAT CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY AND TO COURT ALL THAT CAN MAKE YOU MISERABLE? Eternal Spirit! draw nigh in preventing grace, touch and soften every heart, that all may listen to the affecting question, Why will ye die?

(A. Leslie.)

Homilist.
I. Why will ye DIE?

1. For death is so awful; not the extinction of thought, feeling, memory. Rich man in hell (Luke 16). Loss of all happiness; hope. Exclusion from God and all that is pure and holy; dwelling in the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

2. How life is provided (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11; John 10:10). Deliverance from condemnation; freedom from the power of sin; holiness now, blessedness forever.

II. Why will YE die?

1. For you are surrounded by Gospel privileges.

2. For your punishment will be the more severe (Matthew 11:21; Luke 12:47, 48; Matthew 23:14).

III. Why WILL ye die Whoever is lost wills it. If otherwise, God's character is tarnished. The Gospel is a delusion. Man is incapable of guilt — remorse (John 5:40; Ezekiel 18:32; Deuteronomy 30:19).

IV. WHY will ye die?

1. Because they love their sins better than their souls.

2. Because they will not give time to the serious consideration of these things.

3. Because they refuse to believe in any danger.

(Homilist.)

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