And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lies toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand…
No one ever had such Divine dreams as Ezekiel. In a vision this prophet had seen wrathful angels, destroying angels, each with a sword, but in my text he sees a merciful angel with an inkhorn. The receptacle for the ink in olden time was made out of the horn of a cow, or a ram, or a roebuck, as now it is made out of metal or glass, and therefore was called the inkhorn, as now we say inkstand. We have all spoken of the power of the sword, of the power of wealth, of the power of office, of the power of social influence, but today I speak of the power for good or evil in the inkstand. It is a fortress, an armoury, a gateway, a ransom, or a demolition. "You mistake," says someone, "it is the pen that has the power." No, my friend; what is the influence of a dry pen? Pass it up and down a sheet of paper, and it leaves no mark. It expresses no opinion. It gives no warning. It spreads no intelligence. It is the liquid which the pen dips out of the inkstand that does the work. Here and there a celebrated pen, with which a Magna Charta or a Declaration of Independence, or a treaty was signed, has been kept in literary museum or national archives, but for the most part the pens have disappeared, while the liquid which the pens took from the inkstand remains in scrolls which, if put together, would be large enough to enwrap the round world.
1. First, I mention that which is purely domestic. The inkstand is in every household. It awaits the opportunity to express affection or condolence or advice. Father uses it; mother uses it; the sons and daughters use it. It tells the home news; it announces the marriage, the birth, the departure, the accident, the last sickness, the death. That home inkstand, what a mission it has already executed, and what other missions will it yet fulfil! May it stand off from all insincerity and all querulousness. Oh, ye who have with recent years set up homes of your own! out of the new home inkstand write often to the old folks, if they be still living. A letter means more to them than to us, who are amid the activities of life, and to whom postal correspondence is more than we can manage. As the merciful angel of my text appeared before the brazen altar with the inkhorn at his side in Ezekiel's vision, so let the angel of filial kindness appear at the altars of the old homestead.
2. Furthermore, the inkstand of the business man has its mission. Between now and the hour of your demise, O commercial man, O professional man, there will not be a day when you cannot dip from the inkhorn a message that will influence temporal and eternal destiny. There is a rash young man running into wild speculation, and with as much ink as you can put on the pen at one time you may save him from the Niagara rapids of a ruined life. On the next street there is a young man started in business, who through lack of patronage, or mistake in purchase of goods, or want of adaptation, is on the brink of collapse. One line of ink from your pen will save him from being an underling all his life, and start him on a career that will win him a fortune which will enable him to become an endower of libraries, an opener of art galleries, and builder of churches.
3. Furthermore, great are the responsibilities of the author's inkhorn. When a bad book is printed you do well to blame the publisher, but most of all blame the author. The malaria rose from his inkstand. The poison that caused the moral or spiritual death dropped in the fluid from the tip of his pen. But blessed be God for the author's inkhorn in ten thousand studies which are dedicated to pure intelligence, highest inspiration, and grandest purpose. They are the inkstands out of which will be dipped the redemption of the world. The destroying angels with their swords seen in Ezekiel's vision will be finally overcome by the merciful angel with the writer's inkhorn. Among the most important are the editorial and reportorial inkstands. You have all seen what is called indelible ink, which is a weak solution of silver nitrate, and that ink you cannot rub out or wash out. Put it there, and it stays. Well, the liquid of the editorial and reportorial inkstands is an indelible ink. It puts upon the souls of the passing generations characters of light or darkness that time cannot wash out and eternity cannot efface. Be careful how you use it. While you recognise the distinguished ones who have dipped into the inkstand of the world's evangelisation, do not forget that there are hundreds of thousands of unknown men and women who are engaged in inconspicuous ways doing the same thing! How many anxious mothers writing to the boys in town! How many sisters writing encouragement to brothers far away! How many bruised and disappointed and wronged souls of earth would be glad to get a letter from you! Stir up that consolatory inkhorn. All Christendom has been waiting for great revivals of religion to start from the pulpits and prayer meetings. I now suggest that the greatest revival of all time may start from a concerted and organised movement through the inkhorns of all Christendom, each writer dipping from the inkhorn nearest him a letter of Gospel invitation, Gospel hope, Gospel warning, Gospel instruction. The other angels spoken of in my text were destroying angels, and each had what the Bible calls a "slaughter weapon" in his hand. It was a lance, or a battle axe, or a sword. God hasten the time when the last lance shall be shivered, and the last battle axe dulled, and the last sword sheathed, never again to leave the scabbard, and the angel of the text, who Matthew Henry says was the Lord Jesus Christ, shall from the full inkhorn of His mercy give a saving call to all nations. That day may be far off, but it is hopeful to think of its coming. Is it not time that the boasted invention of new and more explosive and more widely devastating weapons of death be stopped forever, and the Gospel have a chance, and the question be not asked, How many shots can be fired in a minute? but how many souls may be ransomed in a day? Hail, Thou Mighty Rider of the white horse in the final triumph! Sweep down and sweep by, Thou Angel of the New Covenant, with the inkhorn of the world's evangelisation!
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
WEB: Behold, six men came from the way of the upper gate, which lies toward the north, every man with his slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man in the midst of them clothed in linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side. They went in, and stood beside the bronze altar.