Charles Simeon Commentary - Ezekiel 11:5 - 11:5

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Ezekiel 11:5 - 11:5

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Eze_11:5. I know the things which come into your mind, every one of them.

THERE is much of atheism in the heart of man. The language of every one, in the secret of his own bosom, is, “The Lord doth not see, neither will the Almighty regard it [Note: Psa_94:7.].” Doubtless this argues more than brutish stupidity [Note: Psa_94:8-9.]: but still it prevails to an awful extent, even over those who have the best means of instruction. The Prophet Ezekiel had reason to complain of it in his day; and, for the purpose of counteracting it, he declared from God to all the rulers of the Jewish people, “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.”

That we may all be suitably affected with this thought, I will,

I.       Establish the assertion in our text—

There is no man who does not consider God as approving or disapproving of his conduct according to the testimony which his conscience gives respecting it [Note: 1Jn_3:20-21.]: and this universal conviction respecting the omniscience of the Deity is, though not a demonstration, yet certainly a strong presumptive proof, that God is omniscient. But his omniscience may be certainly inferred,

1.       From the law he has given us—

[The law, not by construction only [Note: Mat_5:28.], but in plain terms [Note: Rom_7:7.], takes cognizance of the secrets of the heart. But to what purpose is such a law given, if God be not able to enforce it? Or how can he enforce it, if any motion of the heart be hid from him?]

2.       From the plain declarations of Holy Writ—

[These are numberless. Hear in what terms God himself appeals to the whole world respecting it: “Am I a God at hand, and not afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord [Note: Jer_23:23-24.].”. The whole of the 139th Psalm is written for the confirmation and illustration of this truth; which Job also was persuaded of in his inmost soul: “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee [Note: Job_42:2.].” But we have an illustration of it in the New Testament which is worthy of more particular notice: “All things,” says the Apostle, “are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do [Note: Heb_4:13.].” Here the writer refers to a fact well known to the Hebrews. When a sacrifice was to be offered, not only was it examined externally, to see whether there were any blemish in it, but it was flayed, and cut down the back-bone, and laid open, that so its inward parts might be inspected by the priest. Thus are the inmost recesses of our soul both naked and opened before our God, and not an “imagination of the thoughts of our heart” concealed from him.]

3.       From the appointment of a day of judgment to judge the world—

[To what purpose can such an appointment be, if God do not behold every secret of the heart? The true quality of our actions depends chiefly on the motives and principles from which they spring. But nothing short of omniscience can discover these: and hence God asserts his omniscience in reference to this very day: “I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings [Note: Jer_17:10.].”]

Not to multiply proofs of so clear a point, let me proceed to,

II.      Suggest a suitable improvement of it—

The subject being as important as any that can occupy the human mind, I will endeavour to improve it,

1.       In a way of general reflections—

[In the contemplation of God’s omniscience, we cannot but be struck with the thought of God’s wonderful patience and forbearance. If only the actions of men were discerned by him, there were abundantly sufficient every day and hour to provoke him to wrath, and to bring down on the whole world the judgments which desolated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But he sees all the motives and principles of men, and all the hidden abominations which are indulged in their hearts: and yet he bears with us, and waits to be gracious to every returning penitent. O let us be sensible of our obligations to him, and “let his goodness lead us to repentance [Note: Rom_2:4.].”

Nor shall we be less struck with the erroneousness of the judgment which many form of their state before him. Many judge of themselves only by their acts, whilst in their hearts, if they would but watch the motions of them, they might find abominations without number. Well does Solomon say, “There is a generation that is pure in their own eyes, but are not washed from their filthiness [Note: Pro_30:12.].” But let it be remembered that an angry thought is murder, and an impure look adultery, and the only contention amongst us will be, who shall take the lowest place.

Nearly connected with this is the thought of the awful disclosures which will be made in the day of judgment. If we look back only upon our own lives we shall see enough to fill us with shame and confusion of face: What then will be the feelings of the whole assembled universe, when the thoughts of all hearts shall be disclosed, and the whole aggregate of iniquity that has ever been either acted or conceived be made to appear in one collective mass! Ah! the whited sepulchres that will then be opened, and the lothesome abominations that will be exposed to view! In those indeed who have obtained mercy of the Lord, the exposure will only call forth songs of praise and thanksgiving: but to those who have died in their sins, the anguish will be inconceivable: and glad would they be if rocks or mountains could fall upon them, to hide them from the shame with which they will be overwhelmed [Note: Dan_12:2.].]

2.       In a way of more particular address—

[Tremble, my beloved brethren, for your past sins: for not one shall be concealed in that day, unless indeed through the tender mercy of our God it have been blotted out of the book of God’s remembrance — — — The evil of our thoughts, no less than of our acts, must be accounted for [Note: Act_8:22.]. Wash too in the fountain of the Redeemer’s blood. If so much as one sin be left for you to answer for, it were better for you that you had never been born. Nor ever imagine that the tears of penitence can wash away sin: there is no fountain for you but that which was once opened on the cross for sin and for uncleanness. It is the blood of Christ alone that can cleanse from sin: but “that can cleanse from all sin.” At the same time guard against the incursion of sin in future, even in thought. Already are our sins more in number than the sands upon the sea-shore; and shall we yet be adding to the mighty load? Have we not rendered ourselves sufficiently lothesome in the eyes of a holy God? Let us never forget that “his very name is, Thou God seest me [Note: Gen_16:13.].” But not to act from a mere servile fear, labour to approve yourselves to God in the whole course of your lives. Let your actions, words, and thoughts be such as the heart-searching God will approve [Note: Pro_4:23.]. Then will he bear testimony to you as “Israelites indeed in whom was no guile;” and he who has beheld your most secret thoughts will, in the presence of the whole assembled universe, applaud and “reward you openly.”]