EZEKIEL was by descent a priest, and by commission a prophet, and received it from heaven, as will appear from the first, second, and third chapters. He was, and had been, a captive in Babylon five years when first called to this office, and there he met with many things that were occasions of grief to himself, and occasion of this prophecy. For in Babylon there were many that did repine at their state, repented they had rendered themselves, called into question the truth and integrity of Jeremiah and himself, and were ready to do violence to him; and not only thus, but they continued so to sin, that the name of God was blasphemed because of them: and these things both grieved and weakened the hearts of the best, and hardened the worst. To redress these is Ezekiel both extraordinarily called, commissioned, qualified, and assisted in the prophetic office, in discharge of which he doth reprove and calm the discontented, that they might return to a right frame of patience and hope. He calls the profane and wicked to acknowledge God's just and equal, and their own unequal, ways. He directeth the honest-hearted, who inquire that they might do their duties. He encourages that handful of godly ones among them with many comfortable promises of good in their own land, and of more grace from heaven; and confirmeth what Jeremiah had preached, advised. and foretold in Jerusalem, exactly harmonizing with him, though the one at Babylon, the other at Jerusalem, destitute of all means of conferring with each other. In all these particulars he is sometimes very plain, sometimes speaks in riddles, in which kind he is more frequent than any other of the prophets, in them all deep and mysterious; to the quarrelling and froward these are dark, but to the humble and teachable more significant and clear. In his first three chapters he opens his commission. In the next one and twenty chapters he doth sharply preach against the sins of the Jews; which they dislike, and grow weary of, and violent against the preacher, who for some time is ordered to forbear, and leave them to that severe sermon which the king of Babylon's army should preach to them in the destruction of country, city, and temple, which should open the eyes of some, and wound the heart of all the Jews. So the prophet doth by order from the Lord preach against the heathen round about, through the 25th chapter and on to the end of the 32nd chapter; after which he is sent to preach repentance and pardon, with grace and favour, to Israel, to proclaim the Messiah's kingdom, and to assure them of the wonderful overthrow of their enemies, the rebuilding the city and temple in greatness beyond whatever it was, upon condition they become a reformed people, ashamed for former sins, loathe themselves, and love the Lord their God, and keep his ordinances; which they did not after their return, as is evident from the complaints, menaces, and reproofs which do every where sound in the mouths of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who lived after the joyful return from captivity, and saw the sinful deportment of these returned captives. Much of the prophet's discourses in the 33rd, 34th, 36th, and so on to the end, are typical and mysterious, and refer to the return, as to the emblem of our spiritual deliverance out of spiritual captivity.