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The Wisdom of Providence manifefted in the Revolutions of Government.
Preach'd before the Honourable
Houfe of Commons,
St. Margaret's Westminster,
The Anniversary for the Restoration of
EZEK. xxxvij. 3.
And be faid unto me, Son of Man, can thefe Bones live ? And I anfwerd, O Lord God, thou knoweft.
HESE words are part of that Vi- SERM. fion of the Valley of Bones, wherein the Prophet Ezekiel doth, in a very
SERM. lofty and lively manner, fet out the Loft and Hopeless state of Ifrael, then under Captivity; and their future Recovery out of it, by the immediate Interpofition of a Divine Power, contrary to all Human Probability and Appearance.
The band of the Lord was upon me,(fays he, at the Entrance of this Chapter) and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord,and fet me down in the midst of a Valley which was full of Bones, i.e. the Spirit of God reprefented to my Imagination fuch a fight: And (as he goes on) caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were Many in the open Valley, and, lo! they were very Dry: i. e. they were as Numerous as the Difpers'd of Ifrael in the Plains of Mefopotamia, and as deftitute of lively Juice and Moisture, as that Exil'd People were of all hopes of Returning. And be faid unto me, Son of Man, can thefe Bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knoweft: i. e. Thou, that art the Author and Beftower of Life, canft doubtless reftore it also, if thou will'ft, and when thou will'ft; but whether thou will'ft please
to restore it, or not, That Thou alone S ER M. knoweft. After which, the Spirit commands him to Prophefy upon thofe Bones, and to say, O ye Dry Bones, bear the Word of the Lord, together with what follows, in the two next Verses. And as I prophefied (continued he) there was anoife, and behold a fhaking; and the bones came together, bone to his bone: And --- lo! the finews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above: And, at laft, the breath also came into them, and they lived, and food up upon their feet, an exceeding great Army. Where we have, in the Prophetick way, an Assurance given to the Jews, that, though their Polity was now diffolv'd, and their Tribes difpers'd, yet the time was coming, when the Providence of God would, in a wonderful manner, work out their Deliverance and Return; re-unite the feveral parts of their fhatter'd Frame, and make that People live together once again under their own Laws, and in their own Country. 'Tis true, this Vision hath, by fome of the Ancients, been understood of the General Refurrection; and by others,
SERM. of the General Reftoration of the Jews, before the Second Coming of Chrift; and perhaps Both these Great Transactions might be glanc'd at in it, and remotely intended by it: For the Predictions of Scripture are generally fo contriv'd, as to extend to more than One Event; so, as to be fulfill'd at feveral Times, by several Steps and Degrees of Accomplishment. However, That, which the Prophet had chiefly and most nearly in his View, was, the Recovery of the Jewish State from the Captivity which it then groan'd under; and to That therefore the Vision is, at the close of it, exprefly applied: Son of man, these Bones are the whole boufe of Ifrael: behold, they fay, our bones are dried, and our hope is loft; we are cut off for our parts: therefore, Prophefy and fay unto them, Thus faith the Lord God; Bebold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Ifrael, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
The words of the Text, therefore, when taken together with the other parts of