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At first, oh, how hollow the echoes of his voice would be, as they came back upon his ear, resounding through the valley.

How pithless, how hollow, how useless“but, lo, as I prophesied there was a noise, and a shaking, and a rattling, and a creeping.” Mystery upon mystery ! Wonder

upon wonder! How intense becomes the interest of the vision. There is a shaking. Bones come togetherbone to his bone. “And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them.” And you can imagine that his voice rose in prophesying. How he preached, how he testified, how he repeated and reiterated his message. Hear the word of the Lord. “Behold, I the Lord God will do all this, on you and for you.” " And the skin covered them above.” “But,” says Ezekiel, “there was no breath in them.” Well said, Ezekiel! This is a vision. In some sense there is something grotesque, something huge, something Titanic about it; but I can see that Ezekiel while glowing like a furnace is cool at the same time. He is not carried away by mere rapture and hallucination. His bright, but it is not over bright. He is no visionary, although he is seeing a vision. He is no mere mutterer in a sleeping dream. His eyes are wide open, for he sees that " there was no breath in them.” Again I say, well done, Ezekiel ! I imagine that if I had been there that line would not have been written, " but there was

no breath in them.” I am afraid that we preachers have not Ezekiel's keen vision. I am afraid we are put off by appear

as Ezekiel was not. Oh, how proud and glad he might have been as he saw that change coming over the spirit of his dream-as he saw the bones come together, bone to his bone, and the skin, and the flesh, and the muscle, and all the appearance of manhood, all the

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appearance of life; but he had sense enough to avoid being deceived. In all the torrent, tempest, and whirlwind of prophetic ecstasy, there was this central calmness. No breath; no life. You notice that it is not even the Spirit of God that says to him, “Now, Ezekiel, they are not living yet.” Ezekiel is here, seeing it, as it were, of and by himself. “This is all very grand, but as yet there is virtually nothing done. There is no life." Now, how often we preachers are unlike Ezekiel. Let me repeat that, and come back to it. Sabbath-school teacher, Christian worker, man or woman, who is calling himself or herself a worker for God, and with God, in connection with the awful problem of sin and of salvation, have got Ezekiel's sight of things? By the preaching of the Gospel, under our efforts, are things changing ? This vision does not deny—and the actual facts of to-day do not deny that preaching

make wonderful change. A man like Ezekiel, a man of fiery speech, a man of poetic temperament, a man of vivid imagination, a man who was in his preaching like one who had a lovely voice, and could play well upon an instrument—ah ! it tells. Empty churches fill when Ezekiel is prophesying. Empty benches are covered. Empty treasuries are filled with money when Ezekiel prophesies. The dreary, barren wood-yard, it may be, gives place to a large congregation just like this one.

And then, alas! alas ! Heaven help us ! just at that stage the poor preacher has the wool pulled over his eyes, and he says, • What great success!

What is success in connection with this prophesying, this testifying, unto men, the old message, the Word of God, and God Himself in all His power ? What is success in connection with it?—filled pews? a well-organized church? Oh, let me dwell a little in connection with this vision on that thing called “organization.” How splendidly these bodies were organized, and yet with all their appearance and all their organization, what were they?


reminds me of a memory as far back as I can go, the first time that I was ever in the chamber of death, when I heard the old gossips slipping through the room whispering to each other, “Did you ever see such a bonny corpse!” Aye, some people can see beauty even in a corpse. With us, I am afraid, spiritually, it contents us if only we get you there in your ranked rows, if only we can use you to a certain extent, although it may need no single throb or pulse of real spiritual life. God help us, we are content, and we begin to talk about success, and achievement, and being triumphant. Not so did Ezekiel. He says—and we can almost see him shake his head, and you can almost see him stop his prophesying as he says, “but there is no breath in them.” I want the question to go round this congregation; it is the burden of my heart to-day. God knows that I am glad to see you in one sense. I am glad to see well-filled pews, so is every Ezekiel, so is every preacher, for while it is very, very difficult, and needs Almighty power to convert sinners, there is no converting the empty benches. You can make nothing of them. We are glad to see it; but after all what does it mean? Are you being quickened from the dead, my hearer? Are you beholding a sight which you never saw before—the Lord God speaking over you, to heal you, and to help you, and change you? Are you only seeing me, and are you only hearing me? That is a straight question; it is a hard one for me, and it is a harder one for you. Let us all face the responsibility of it—for if we are only just to look as far forward as our eye sees -if there be not amongst us the power of God Almighty through the grace of His Son, quickening the dead, pulling you up where you sit out of your grave of lust, and worldliness, and covetousness, and flippancy, and frivolity, and formalism, then this church is a joy to the devil, and an offence to God: an organized hypocrisy.

“There was no breath in them.” Yes, preaching like: Ezekiel's does perform a certain work. It does go a long way; but no amount of preaching, no matter how earnest, does go far enough. This might be taken as an illustration of a wonderful word which you have in the Epistle to the Corinthians. God was in this. It was not in vain; and Ezekiel was brought to this stand, this halt, not because the work had come to an end, not because despair was again to come down, but because God would have emphasized upon his heart and mind, and upon ourselves, that it is all of God, and we must not be misled or take any glory to ourselves, but give it all where all is due. Howbeit,” says the Apostle, “ that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which is spiritual.” It may be that that might help us in this controversy as to the worth and result of foreign missions. It may be that we criticize too hastily, because men are not jumping at once into newness of spiritual life. Are they coming at all into connection with the Gospel? Are they coming at all out of savagery and superstition into the order and organization of God's house and of God's worship? “ That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural," and afterwards the quickening touch, the breath from heaven.

“ Then He said unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, son of man”-or literally, prophesy unto the breath—“and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." Still dead, still slain. “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.”

Our time has gone; but I must, as briefly as possible, just in one word, try to show how here you have all that wonderful story that we read from the chapter in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts ii.). You have to bring that in, to fill out and to supplement Ezekiel's vision : Prophesy unto the breath.” Oh, there must be not only outward speaking to men the things of God, speaking them in God's name, speaking them in God's power; but there must be speaking upward to himselfspeaking outward and speaking upward, calling to you, and calling to Him, even the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. By these two sharp divisions in His work, God brought it in upon Ezekiel, and He brings it in upon you and me, that without Him we can do nothing. Let not our very success become our stumblingblock. Let that not lead us into deeper darkness, but all the more that we see a change coming, a wonderful change, a movement and commotion, stagnation breaking up, and some sign of life—then is the time to cry mightily to God the Holy Ghost, without whom no soul can draw a single breath of everlasting life. Oh, that was a splendid sight that opened on Ezekiel's mind, that viewless, but magnificent procession-shall I call it ?-or congression, from the four winds as there swooped down upon that scene of desolation the life-giving Spirit of Almighty God !

We are living in the midst of that very breath to-day. Why, then, is there not more life among us ? Ah ! surely, surely we need to come back to this. Surely, surely we need to rub our eyes and ask ourselves again and again, Have we as yet heard whether there be any holy breath—any Holy Spirit? Do we believe Him? Are we depending upon Him and His energy alone ? My words

can pierce your ear, my words can go by a certain channel into your natural understanding of things; but they are dull, they are heavy, they are weak. It needs the Spirit of God with all His keen, quick power to go into your heart, and awaken you up from your death to newness of life. Brother preachers, brother Christian workers, let us remember that preaching breath is vain unless there be along with it an equal and an adequate amount of praying breath for the Holy Spirit.

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