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"And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these
things are to us, that thou doest so?" — Ezekiel xxiv. 19.

"And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these
things are to us, that thou doest so?" — Ezekiel xxiv. 19.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE DEATH OF EZEKIELS WIFE.BY SAMUEL COX"And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what thesethings are to us, that thou doest so?" — Ezekiel xxiv. 19.A MAN cannot be a prophet without paying a heavyprice for it ; and yet the very price he has to pay maymake him rich. He must subordinate his private life,with its interests and affections, to his public duty ; butin the faithful discharge of public duty he may bestnourish and cultivate his personal life. He must exhausthimself in many labours, endure many pains, make manysacrifices ; but these very labours, pains, sacrifices, arelikely to prove his best training, and to raise him to anobler stamp of excellence and a higher degree of use-fulness than he could otherwise attain.We all admit that no man can become perfect save bysufferings, and the use he makes of them. How can wedoubt it when even the Best Man learned obedience andwas made perfect by the things which He suffered .^And yet when we see a good man afflicted, and afflictedbecause or by means of his goodness, how prone we areto pity him, and to resent the wrongs by which he isTHE DEATH OF EZEKIELS WIFE. 443settled and established in righteousness ! When thesuffering by which we are made perfect falls on its, howapt we are to pity and bemoan ourselves, and to carryourselves as if some strange thing had befallen us, some-thing that we can hardly be expected to bear with
patience, courage, hope ! When those whom we loveare called to pass through trials of loss and bereavement,how apt we are to commiserate them and condole withthem on the very discipline which is intended for theirperfection ! how inapt to remind them that they arebeing summoned by the Divine Pity and Love to takethe way of the Cross, to tread the path their Master took before them ! Suffering makes perfect, we admit ; andwe long for tJieir perfection : yet how we shrink fromseeing them brought under the only discipline by whichtheir perfection is to be secured !Nevertheless, we have no true comfort for them till wecan give them this high and noble comfort, till, with theaccent of deep conviction, we can assure them that bythe things which they suffer God is purging them fromtheir faults and defects, calling them to a nearer approach,a closer fellowship with Himself, beseeching and con-straining them to pursue the true and highest aims of life, teaching them to live for others rather than forthemselves, and so helping them to become perfect evenas He is perfect.To all who are seeking " comfort to their grief," to allwho would carry true comfort to their stricken neigh-bours, there is an incident in Ezekiel's history whichspeaks with a very penetrating and pregnant voice.444 ^HE DEATH OF EZEKIELS WIFE.It was, he tells us, on the tenth day of the tenth monthin the ninth year of his exile — a date he could neverforget — that he lost the wife of his youth, a wife sotenderly and passionately loved that she is called " thedesire of his eyes " — the choice phrase implying that inher person and character he found a loveliness so fresh
and of such infinite variety that custom could not staleit to him, that he was always finding something new toadmire in her and to love. " The desire of his eyes wastaken away from him at a stj-okel' the suddenness of hisloss deepening his sense of loss, and oppressing him withan intolerable burden of grief. With the tidings of herdeath, moreover, there came a command which musthave been inexpressibly bitter to him. He was not tomourn or weep, or let his tears run down. He was to^'sigh in silence, and to make no mourning for the dead."He was not to uncover his head and sprinkle ashes uponit, nor to put his shoes from off his feet, nor to cover hislips, after the manner of Eastern mourners ; nor was heto " eat the bread of men," i.e., the food which men sentto the house of mourning in token of sympathy with itsbereaved inmates. All the common shows of sorrowand respect were to be omitted ; and he was to go abouthis ordinary tasks in his ordinary attire, as though nostroke had fallen on his breaking heart. To a man of his sensitive and poetic temperament the command musthave seemed doubly hard. Yet he had grace to obeyit ; and there is all the force of deep passion well re-pressed and controlled in the strong simple words inwhich he describes his obedience (Verse i8) : " So I spakeTHE DEATH OF EZEKIEDS WIFE. 44sunto the people in the morning ; and at even my wifedied : and I did in the morning as I was commanded."How could he do it ? we ask in amazement, quiteforgetting that our question should rather be, Howcould he do otherwise ? For, first of all, he had been inclose and intimate fellowship with God for many years,and therefore knew that God's will is always pure andkind, however cruel it may seem. And, then, the word

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