Ezekiel 10:13
I heard the wheels being called "the whirling wheels."
Sermons
Ezekiel's Vision of the WheelJ. Halsey.Ezekiel 10:13
The Mysteries of ProvidenceEssex RemembrancerEzekiel 10:13
The Vision of the WheelsEzekiel 10:13
The Wheel of ProvidenceF. Tucker, B. A.Ezekiel 10:13
WheelsD. Davies.Ezekiel 10:13
The Machinery of God's ProvidenceJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 10:1-22
The Withdrawal of the Presence of God from a Guilty PeopleW. Jones Ezekiel 10:4, 18, 19
The human voice deserves to be studied and admired as a most effective and delicate and exquisitely beautiful provision for the expression of thought and feeling. It is so ethereal, so semi-spiritual, that there seems scarcely any anthropomorphism in attributing it to the Creator himself. The sounds of nature may indeed be designated the voice of God. But the characteristics of the human utterance seem most justly attributable to him who comprehends in perfection within himself all those thoughts and emotions which are distinctive of the spiritual nature.

I. THE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE NATURE OF GOD. The voice is, among all the inhabitants of this earth, man's prerogative alone. And for this reason - man alone has reason, and therefore he alone has speech. There are noises and sounds, and even musical sounds, in nature; but to man alone belongs the voice, the organ of articulate speech and intelligible language. When voice is attributed to the Almighty God, it is implied that he is himself in perfection that Reason which he communicates to his creature man. Our intellect and thought are derived from his, and are akin to his; our reason is "the candle of the Lord" within.

II. THE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE INTERCOURSE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. The purpose of the voice is that man may communicate with his fellow man by means of articulate language, and by means of all those varied and delicate shades of intonation by which we convey our sentiments, and indicate satisfaction and disapproval, confidence and distrust, tenderness and severity, inquiry and command. Now, where we meet in Scripture with the phrase, "the voice of God Almighty when he speaketh," we are led to think of the purpose for which he utters his voice. It is evidently to communicate with man - mind with mind - that we may be acquainted with his thoughts, his wishes, his sentiments with regard to us, if we may use language so human. The whole of nature may be regarded as uttering the Divine thought, though, as the psalmist tells us, "there is no speech nor language, and their voice cannot be heard." But his articulate speech comes through the medium of human minds - the minds of prophets and apostles, and (above all) the mind of Christ Jesus. The Word speaks with the Divine voice; in him alone that voice reaches us with all the faultless tones, and with the perfect revelation which we need in order that we may realize and rejoice in the presence of the Divine Father of spirits, the Divine Saviour and Helper.

III. THIS EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT UPON THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF MAN.

1. It is ours to listen with grateful joy to the voice of God. "The friend of the bridegroom rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice." Christ speaks, and his utterances are welcome to every believing and sympathetic nature; they are as the sound of a voice long expected and wished for, as it now fails upon the listening and eager ear. The sinner may well dread the voice which can speak to him as with the thunder of threatened vengeance. But the Christian recognizes the tones of love and the accents of gentleness.

2. It is ours to listen to the voice of God with believing submission and obedience. God's voice is always with authority. Because he reveals himself as our Father, he does not cease to command. "Ye have not heard his voice at any time," was the stern reproach addressed by Jesus to the unspiritual Jews. The exhortation comes to us all, "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." - T.







O wheel.
I take this figure to refer to Divine providence — the actual dealings of the Creator with His creatures; so various, so complicated, and yet so harmonious after all.

I. THE CHANGES IN GOD'S PROVIDENCE. The chariot that we see here is not of the old rude type, not a mere sledge drawn roughly and heavily along the ground; but something more ingenious and more elaborate. It has its wheels — that beautiful kind of mechanism, which none of the most recent improvements in locomotion have been able to supersede; the wheel, with its many spokes and perfect circle, ever revolving and revolving. Many of us can recollect the time when, as children, our minds first caught the idea of the motion of a wheel; the higher part becoming the lower, the spokes that were upward becoming reversed and pointing downward, whilst from beneath other spokes were ever rising to the top; and so, nothing continuing at one stage — nothing to be seen but change, change, perpetual change. And now, no longer children, we see it all in providence; and, seeing it, look up and cry, "O wheel!"

1. We see it in social life.(1) Look into the house. "One generation is passing away, and another generation coming." "Instead of the fathers are the children."(2) Look on the Exchange. Old long-established houses are sinking, are disappearing, and younger firms are taking their place.(3) Look into the Churches. Where are the old preachers that used to move all hearts? and who are these younger men that have risen to so much influence?

2. We see it in national experience. See what our Father is doing in the earth, what changes — what mighty changes — He is working on every hand. This is no new aspect of His dealings. There was a time when on the spokes of the wheel were written the names of Babylon and Persia, of Greece and Rome. And then the wheel turned round: and each in succession rose to the summit — and was humbled to the dust. Has it not been the same story ever since? and is it not the same story now? It matters not what political opinions you may hold. As you watch the rise and fall of nations, parties, and opinions on the wheel of Divine providence, you are constrained to cry, "O wheel!"

3. We see it in the history of the professing Church. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea — these are the names of seven famous Churches: Churches to which Christ Himself dictated sacred letters, and which stood high and conspicuous in the religious history of the world. Where are they now? The wheel has turned! They are sunk down into the mire, and lie buried there! So too with the Churches to which Paul wrote. Where are Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica? The mosque rises where once stood the Christian sanctuary, and the Crescent has displaced the Cross. But you say, The Church of Rome still stands. It does! But is this the Church to which Paul wrote? So you may go through the professing Churches of every name — at home and abroad — near or far, and you will find nothing uniform or stationary: only change upon change — increase and decrease — advance and decline until you stand amazed and bewildered, and can only cry, "O wheel!"

II. PROGRESS IN THE MIDST OF ALL THESE CHANGES. The wheel the prophet saw was not like the wheel we may see in fireworks, — one which revolves round the axle, leaving the axle motionless; it was the wheel of a chariot — one which carries the axle with it, and bears the chariot on with each revolution. And there is something in this view very cheering in the truth it suggests: that in the midst of so many changes of God's providence a real progress is taking place. Bear in mind — the progress of the chariot is independent of the position of the separate spokes. Some of them may be rising, some falling; but each moment the chariot goes on. Nay, some of them may be actually moving backwards — but still the chariot goes forwards. Just so, all the changes in God's providence — even those that look like changes in the wrong direction — are helping on the progress after all.

1. In what sense is this to be understood? In what forward movement are these changes bearing a part? I answer, in the accomplishment of the purposes of God. The world is to be converted to God. "All the ends of the earth shall remember," "I, if I be lifted up," etc. The Church is to be complete in members, purity, and bliss. We read of "a multitude that none can number, of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues." We read of saints "without spot or blemish," and these are "presented faultless," etc. The Redeemer is to have a large and abundant reward. "He shall see of the travail," etc.

2. In what way can this progress come to pass? How can changes so disastrous help forward the accomplishment of purposes so delightful? We have to do with One who is "wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." There may be lions in the path — but He slays the lions, "and out of the eater comes forth meat, and out of the strong, sweetness." There may be passions in man's heart worse than beasts of prey, — but He so controls their working that in the end "the wrath of man shall praise Him." "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?"

(F. Tucker, B. A.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. THE EXTENT AND UNIVERSALITY OF ITS OPERATIONS. The wide reach of God's providential government comprehends what is easy to be understood as well as what is mysterious. The light and the darkness are often placed together, though in reality they are both alike to Him. With God there is nothing incomprehensible: — the terms great and little, easy and difficult, with Him are words of the same meaning. When we read the account of these wheels, of their rings and their motions, and the living creatures that accompanied them, we are confounded. Yet it is easy to conceive of the Son of Man governing the celestial inhabitants according to the will of His Father, regulating their movements by the agency of His Spirit, and employing them as instruments in accomplishing His gracious purposes.

II. THE COMPLEXITY OF ITS MOVEMENTS.

1. Is it not intended to mortify our pride? There is no religion without humility.

2. Does it not serve to exercise our faith and patience?

3. Is it not designed to check in us a lawless spirit of curiosity?

III. THE PERPETUITY OF ITS REVOLUTIONS. The changes that are taking place in the history of nations, churches, families, and individuals are all tending to the completion of His designs. Are they not intended to teach us how uncertain and unsatisfactory are all created things?

IV. THE HARMONY OF THEIR CONCURRENCE.

1. They are all directed to one object.

2. They are all acting upon one plan. Here there is nothing casual or fortuitous. The past has made way for the present, and the present is preparing for the future.

3. They are all animated by one influence.

V. IT IS UNIMPEDED IN ITS PROGRESS. We mean not to say that there are no hindrances in the way of the Divine purposes being accomplished; for ignorance, prejudice, and sin present most formidable barriers; but as the wheels in the vision are described as going forward, impelled by a Divine influence, it certainly teaches us that God's will is irresistible, and intimates the certain triumph of truth in the world.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The cry, "O wheel," the articulated cry of the universal human spirit, meant, "O Divine mystery! the intellect cannot comprehend thee, yet the heart's aspiration is towards thee."

1. This exclamation indicates our proper attitude in presence of these mysteries as one of awe, and not of definition. Modern scientific investigation tends to reveal to us, more and more humiliatingly, the narrowness and impotence of our faculty. The very growth of knowledge makes manifest the limitations and the illusiveness of knowledge. And the danger is that of a universal scepticism; that men should say, "I cannot know anything as it is, and therefore I will believe nothing, obey nothing, but the instincts of my own nature." It is only the spirit of reverence that can save us. Let us not spend our intellectual energies and dissipate our spiritual forces in the pursuit of that which ever eludes us. Let our language be, "Though we cannot comprehend, we will adore." And so let our reverence teach us obedience and love, and our piety be of the life and not of the intellect. Let us not divorce religion from life, and make it a series of dead abstractions instead of a living spirit. It is the pursuit of a good that is known, and not speculation, however dogmatic, upon that which is unknowable, that constitutes practical religion. It is "in loving our brother whom we have seen" that we attain to the love of God, "whom we have not seen."

2. In all this imagery the prophet is describing a vision of God, and by the emblem of the wheels he describes so much as is understood of the Divine nature. There is breath in the wheels. It is a living deity. There are eyes around the peripheries. This points to infinite knowledge and intelligence as overruling the world. The wheels are four-faced; the faces representing the different orders of creation, showing the relation of the Divine Spirit to all the various kingdoms of life. The movements are swift and in all directions, there being a double motion of the wheels, which are inserted in pairs at right angles to each other. This suggests the idea of omnipresence. The mischief is, that so many minds stay in the symbol and suffer it to block out the spiritual idea, instead of serving as a stepping stone to it The wheel becomes the deity instead of the symbol of deity; the object of idolatry, instead of simply a spiritual hieroglypbic to aid our conceptions of the Divine.

3. The wheel which the prophet saw in his vision stands not only for a representation of the Divine nature, as he conceived it, but also as an illustration of the Divine method in the universe.(1) It is curious, in the light of the prophet's representation, that the scientific theory of the origin of the universe which at present holds the field is the doctrine of "vortices," which teaches that the atoms of the impalpable ether first became compacted into solid matter through a spinning motion in some way imparted to them, or generated amongst themselves. All the planets were originally whirling rings of molten or meteoric matter thrown off from their central sun, such as may still be seen in the rings of the planet Saturn. The mightiest forces of nature with which we are acquainted on our earth travel in circles more or less perfect: the cyclone, the whirlwind, the whirlpool, the ocean currents. There is perpetual circulation, or, to use the prophet's term, "wheeling" or "whirling" everywhere. It is in the body, in the course traversed by the blood. It is in the cells of minutest plants, where the protoplasmic fluid travels in circles or circuits with a movement that is called for this reason "cyclosis." It is in the meteorological conditions of the earth. The fierce heat of the sun in equatorial regions causes the water of the ocean to evaporate in vast bodies of invisible vapour, which, rising to the upper regions of the air, are drawn into currents which bear them to the colder northern regions of our planet, where they distil in snow and rains upon the mountains; form rivulets and rivers which flow back into the sea, and are borne once more by the trend of the pelagic currents to the regions whence they arose. The movements of the tides imply a constant circulation. This portion of the globe on which we dwell has experienced remarkable rotations of climate. It has known, for long ages together, both tropical heat and arctic cold; and it is supposed that the slow oscillations of the earth's polar axis may bring round similar changes again. And so, in the movements of History, the same law prevails — the whirling wheel is still the type. The very words we use to describe the course of providential occurrences is a proof of this. We talk of cycles — of revolutions — of evolution. In all these words the central idea is that of circular motion. There is everywhere revolution and return. There are cycles of thought which complete themselves, and then the human mind seems to revert to its starting point. Old exploded errors are continually cropping up again, and the world's teachers have to be perpetually doing their work anew. We all know how fashions recur: not only fashions in dress but fashions in thinking. We laugh at witchcraft and toy with spiritualism. The pages of history are filled with the stories of the rise and fall and decay of nations that emerged from comparative barbarism to a splendid civilisation and universal conquest, and then fell back into a condition of comparative barbarism once more.(2) In the prophet's vision there were "wheels within wheels." This points to another law of the universe, the complex relations of forces. You have seen an orrery, a most complicated piece of mechanism, whereby the orbits of the heavenly bodies are illustrated. It is just a system of "wheels within wheels." Nothing can be explained by itself. The ancients used to divide off the various sciences as though each were a self-contained and independent department of study. But now the sciences are so interlaced and mutually dependent that you cannot effectively study any of them alone. "To understand botany aright you must also possess a knowledge of chemistry. You cannot understand zoology apart from geology. Psychology, the science of mind, is rapidly becoming a department of physiology. The same force which we call electricity is, according to varying conditions, at one time heat, at another time motion, at another time light, at another time latent energy, — "wheels within wheels." We talk about simple thoughts. There is no thought that is not the product of, and that does not ramify into, a thousand other thoughts. We talk of the "simple Gospel," but what wheels within wheels of mystery, what a vast range of insoluble questions does it suggest! It is a simple Gospel only to the unthinking.

4. I find further suggested by this emblem, the Divine law of progress. The revolution of the wheels results in transition over space. There is the motion, not only upon their own several axes, but through the air and over the ground, according to the will of the informing spirit. They are the type, not only of motion, but of locomotion, Winter after winter the leaves fall, and vegetation dies down, and everywhere is apparent decay and death. But nature is only recovering herself for another effort, and in the spring every tree shoots forth into a more vigorous growth. Nature dies to live again. Out of the decomposition of last year's foliage what new and beauteous forms of floral life have sprung! And their decay in turn will nourish other forms of life. "Every atom of the soil is in the universal wheel of things." Shall this be true of nature alone? Shall not man rise through seeming dissolution to his true completion? As one of our modern mystics says, "We call autumn the fall of the year, and winter the dead past of the year, but they are as really included in the circuit of the year as spring and summer. Let us learn to contemplate the fall and the death of man, together with his new birth and resurrection, his ascension and glorification, as comprehended in the wheel of God."

5. The prophet is careful to tell us that, complex as were the wheels, they were not mere dead mechanism. "The spirit of life was in the wheels." The immanency of the Divine life in all things was to him a noble and a helpful conception. And the latest teachings of science and philosophy, God's modern priests and prophets, are that all this mighty universe, all the things that we see and hear and perceive, are the phenomena, the manifestations, of a hidden but all-pervading life that, through our sensations, is thus in direct, constant, and vital contact with our consciousness. There is no such thing as dead matter. It is we who. are dead, not to perceive the life that is in all.

6. Think of Ezekiel's monsters and griffins, and his impossible machinery careering through the air, as embodying the thought of God; and then contrast these representations with those of Him who said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father"; who translated Divine abstractions into living and loving deeds; who healed the sick, and said, "That is God"; who taught the ignorant, and said, "That is God"; who forgave injuries, and said, "That is God"; who laid down His life, and said, "That is God"; who pointed to no grotesque symbols and spoke in no mystical jargon, but of the ever-serving, the ever-sacrificing, the ever-present, the ever-loving Father — God.

(J. Halsey.)

I. The wheel, as a rule, moves round one central bar of wood or iron, which we call an axis or axle. It teaches us a lesson in this respect. Our lives should have one strong principle, about which they should move just as the wheel does round its axle, and never turn aside in the least.

2. The wheel often bears the burdens of others, and thus hellos the world to go on. This is true of many kinds of wheels; but I will only speak now of those which you see every day under all kinds of conveyances on railways and in our streets. How patiently they turn round and round, often along dirty roads, in order to carry the heavy burdens laid upon them! I want you children to be like the wheels, always ready to render a kind service to others: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and thus fulfil the law of Christ."

3. There is many a wheel that is satisfied with working out of sight. For instance, the wheels of the clock or watch go on doing their work although most attention is paid to the hands which they turn rather than to themselves. There are many in the world who could learn a great deal from wheels that work patiently out of sight. They are willing to be flywheels, which everybody can see and admire; but not to be little wheels, which do their work unnoticed by anyone — except by the Great Engineer, who knows them well, and what important work they are doing. There are others who are satisfied with the thought that this Divine Engineer is pleased with them because they do just the work He wishes them to do; and know that He is "no respecter of persons."

4. The wheel only asks of us a little oil to encourage it to go on. The other day I heard the wheels of a perambulator crying piteously for just two drops of oil; but the nursemaid was as deaf as a pest, and did not hear them, and the poor wheels went on squeaking. There are some good, kind people who will do all they can for the sake of others; but occasionally they want a little oil by way of encouragement; a kind word or smile, that is all.

(D. Davies.)

None of all the prophets have set out the providence of God in His wisdom, power, sovereignty, and superintendency more than this prophet Ezekiel, nor by more elegant emblems. In the whole verse you have four parts.

I. THE CRIER. Which though not expressed, yet is necessarily to be understood. "It was cried"; by whom? By Him that sat upon the throne (ver. 1), that is the Lord.

II. YOU HAVE THE CRY ITSELF. "O wheel!"

III. THE OBJECT OF THE CRY. To whom it was made; it was to the wheels. "As for the wheels, it was cried to them."

IV. Here is THE WITNESS IN WHOSE PRESENCE THE CRY WAS UTTERED, and that was the prophet. "It was cried in my hearing." In speaking of these wheels, it will be necessary to look into the whole vision. In which vision you may see an excellent subordination of causes one to another, and all to the supreme cause, in the carrying on the government in the providential kingdom of Christ.

1. You have the supreme cause set out by the appearance of a man upon a throne above the firmament (Ezekiel 1:26). Above the firmament was the likeness of a throne, and upon the throne was the likeness of a man above upon it. The likeness of a man. Who is this but the Lord Christ in the Person of the Mediator? But Christ was not as yet come in the flesh, why then is He here represented in the likeness of a man?(1) It was to prefigure His incarnation.(2) It was to show that the government of the world was put into His hand as Mediator, and that He possessed the throne of the world not as God only, but according to His human nature. By Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17). And hence it is that God the Father calls Him, My King (Psalm 2:6).

2. Though Christ rules absolutely, yet He doth not rule immediately; He governs the world by the agency of the Eternal Spirit. As Christ rules for God, so the Spirit rules for Christ. He is the great Administrator of the government throughout the mediatory kingdom. He sets all a-going (Ezekiel 1:12). Whither the Spirit was to go, they went; and again (ver. 20), whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went; thither was their Spirit to go. All the angels of God are under the command of the Spirit. And so it is with the wheels, they all move as the Spirit of God moves them. What great things did the judges in Israel of old! Why, all was by the Spirit of God. So it is said of Othniel, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went out to war, and the Lord delivered his enemies into his hand (Judges 3:10). So it is said (Judges 11:29), The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he fought against the children of Ammon; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. So it is said of Samson: The Spirit of the Lord moved him (Judges 13:25). Princes, armies, navies are all nothing without the Spirit of God act them. If God dispirits, the men of might cannot find their hands. The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them (Leviticus 26:36). And if God spirits men, one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30). The wheels go which way soever the Spirit goes. If you see the wheel go over kingdoms, and break down thrones and sceptres, marvel not at the matter, for the Spirit of God is in the wheels.

3. Here is another subordination of causes; and that is the living creatures. In chap. Ezekiel 1:5 you read of four living creatures, every one of which had four faces (ver. Ezekiel 1:6). He doth not say who or what these living creatures are in that vision; but in this tenth chapter he tells you they are the angels (ver. Ezekiel 10:20). The living creatures that I saw, under the God of Israel, I knew that they were the cherubims; everyone had four faces apiece (ver. Ezekiel 10:21). The former vision was at Chebar, this was in the temple. God discovers Himself more in the temple than at Chebar (Psalm 29:9). And if you look into chap. Ezekiel 1:10, there is a description of their faces. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, and the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle. The very same faces with the four beasts mentioned (Revelation 4:7). These four faces show four excellent endowments. Wisdom and prudence, typed out by the face of a man. Courage and boldness, by the face of a lion. Diligence and industry, by the face of an ox. Expedition and dispatch, by the face of an eagle. These were the likeness of the four faces of each cherubim, all which is to instruct us in the wise forecast by which the Providence of God doth dispose of all these lower events that come to pass in the world. The angels are the great ministers of Christ in the government of the world, called four here (chap. Ezekiel 1:5), four living creatures; not because Christ uses that number, and no more, but the number relates to the object, namely, the world, which is constantly divided into four parts, east, west, north, and south; and these are called the four quarters of the earth (Revelation 20:8). And the four quarters of heaven (Jeremiah 49:36). As there are four parts of the world, so the angels are said to be four; to show that they have a care of the whole earth (Revelation 7:1). But otherwise God doth not use only four angels in the conducting the affairs of the world, but many, yea multitudes (2 Kings 6:17). Christ hath His angels in all quarters; as the devil and his angels compass the whole world for evil, so Christ hath His angels who compass it for good. They are in every corner and company; especially in every church and assembly. The inward part of the temple was to be adorned with cherubims, to note the special attendance of the angels in the assemblies of the saints (1 Corinthians 11:10). If Satan and fallen angels have a power to influence the affairs of the world for evil, then surely good angels have as much power as they to influence them for good, otherwise devils should gain by their fall more than ever they had by their standing. Great is the influence of angels in the governments of the world; therefore the wheels are said to follow the motions of the cherubims (Ezekiel 10:16).

4. Here is a further subordination; and that is of the affairs of the world to the angels. Christ, who rules all, sends His Spirit, the Spirit acts the angels, the angels rule the world, and therefore you have in the next place a vision of wheels. By these wheels the world is resembled, and all the affairs of it (Ezekiel 1:19). When the living creatures went, the wheels went by them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. And ver.

2. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood. Now they which are called here the living creatures are in Ezekiel 10:16 called the cherubims, and the reason of all is in the next words, for the Spirit of the living creature is in them, i.e. in the wheels, as it is twice mentioned (Ezekiel 1:20, 21). So that here you have a short view of the whole subordination of causes one to another, and of all to the supreme cause, in ordering all the affairs of this lower world. God the Father puts the government of all into the hands of Christ. Christ substitutes the Spirit to be His Prorex, and sends Him into the world to manage all things. The Spirit acts the angels, and they all minister to Him. The angels act the wheels, and they all are governed by them. I must open this part of the vision a little more distinctly concerning the wheels —

1. As to the nature of them.

2. As to what is ascribed to them.

1. As for the nature of these wheels, they are visional, and presented by way of emblem. The prophet tells you (chap. Ezekiel 1:1) the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. These wheels were a part of those visions, and therefore not material wheels, but yet as really represented to the eye of the prophet in similitude, and as strongly impressed upon his mind in the image of them as if they had been material. By the wheels we are to understand this visible world, because of the turnings and changes of all things in it. It is usual with the Spirit of God to resemble the world to things that are in their nature most mutable.(1) The wheel is a thing fitted for motion. From its figure it is apt to turn and move any way; that spoke that is now lowermost is anon highest, and that which is got to the top soon comes to the bottom again; here is no such matter as a permanent state of things. What are the kingdoms and empires of the world, but so many wheels turning up and down? Those four great monarchies, the Babylonian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman, where are they? What is become of them? how did they wheel from one to another, and at last wheeled out of being? So it is with cities, — what is become of Sodom, and the cities of the plain? Nay, what is become of Jerusalem? She that was once the beauty of the whole earth, and yet now laid waste, and not one stone left upon another. Nay, the Church, which hath a firmer foundation than heaven and earth, yet she is a wheel too: hurried here and there, never long in any condition; sometimes prosperous, sometimes persecuted. Now she enjoys rest and peace; anon, O thou afflicted, and tossed with tempest! One while she is in Egypt, another while in the wilderness; sometimes in Canaan, and sometimes in Babylon. The lot of the Church under the Gospel is the same. It is the same with particular persons and families; how doth the wheel turn there? Solomon tells you, one generation passes away, and another comes, but he tells you of none that stays. Man's exit is so near to his entrance, that what comes between is inconsiderable. His birth is a change, his death is a change, and so is his whole life: there are changes in his health; well today, sick tomorrow. Changes in his height and honour; now on the top of the wheel, anon at the bottom. You have an instance of this in Haman.(2) Wheels make a great noise, their motion is obstreperous; so the prophet describes them (Nahum 3:2). The noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the jumping chariots. So it is in the motions of the world. Great wars make a great noise; therefore you read of the noise of the trumpet, and the noise of war (Exodus 32:17). Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise (Isaiah 9:5). Great sorrows and great rejoicings make a great noise (Ezra 3:13). You read of the noise of joy, and the noise of weeping. Great changes in government make a great noise (Jeremiah 49:21). The earth is moved at the noise of their fall.(3) The wheel is an instrument of great variety of services; it is many ways useful. The chariot is drawn upon wheels; great burdens are carried upon the wheel. Now, from these things it will not be difficult for you to apprehend what is meant by the wheels in this vision; namely, all created beings in this lower world; and all instruments which God makes use of in the government of it; all the elements, fire, water, earth, and air: they are so many wheels. But we are to understand them chiefly of rational agents: kings and princes, magistrates and ministers, armies and navies, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. Thus much for the nature of the wheels, which is the first thing to be opened.

2. As to what is ascribed to them. Now, concerning these wheels, there are several things ascribed to them that are of very great moment.(1) It is said the wheels are full of eyes (Ezekiel 10:12). "The wheels were full of eyes round about." This implieth the Omniscience of Christ, and His exact notice of all matters in the world; though many things may be hid from us, yet there is nothing hid from Him. If we could suppose anything done by man that is unknown to God, why then, in that particular thing the knowledge of man would be superior to God; he would know something more than God knows, which is impossible; for the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3). There are secrets of government, secrets of state, secrets of the heart, secret contrivances, secret aims and intentions; but none of them are secrets to God. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. Thus the wheels are full of eyes.(2) This sets out the care of Christ: the things of the world are not carried on by a blind force; all events are wisely disposed of by the governing care of Providence, which hath a special influence in the managing of all. Things may seem to us to run upon wheels, to go at random, or to fail out by chance, but there is no such thing as chance to that God that foresees and orders all events. He worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will. Those motions and commotions in the world that to us seem most irregular and confused are all ordered by God.(3) These wheels are said to go upon their four sides (ver. 11 of this 10th chap.). I told you before that the four wheels answer to the four parts of the world; and when it is said they went on the four sides, the meaning is that, look what quarter of the world was appointed to them, thither they went and there they moved. And then it shows their motion was constant and settled, answering to the immutable purpose of Him with whom there is no shadow of change. God is not as man, who is fickle and doth not know his own mind, turning from one side to another; today for pulling down what yesterday he set up. There is no altering the course of Providence; no art, no power, no policy can turn Him out of the way, His Providence is settled in its motion.(4) There is no going back (ver. 11). They turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. We may be sure there are no retrograde motions in the course of Providence. How can there, seeing the wheels are full of eyes round about? He to whom all future events are in present view can see no cause to repent. There can be no blots in the copy of Providence, because it is written by the straight line of His unerring counsel. If God go forth against a person, or against a nation or people, none can stand in His way to turn Him back (Isaiah 43:13). If God will pull down, who can support? If God will take away (be it honours, or crowns, or kingdoms, or life itself), who can hinder Him? Can policy turn Him back? No. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought (Isaiah 8:10).(5) The wheels are said to he lifted up from the earth, and to be high and dreadful (Ezekiel 1:18, 19). This is to teach us that God's wisdom is infinite and unsearchable, and His Providences full of mystery. Sometimes they move in an ordinary way, then the wheels move upon the earth. Sometimes God goes out of the usual road, and acts in extraordinary ways, that reason can't reach, then the wheels are said to be "high, and lifted up from the earth." How little could Joseph see what God was doing when he was in the pit at Dothan, less in the dungeon in Egypt, when he is laid in chains for a reward of his chastity? Oh, how high are the wheels above the earth! nay, sometimes they are so high that they are dreadful (ver. 18). They were so to Jeremiah (Ezekiel 12:1). Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? They were so to Job (chap. Job 19:7). Behold I cry out of wrong, but am not heard; I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. He hath kindled His wrath against me, and He counts me as one of His enemies (ver. Job 19:11). When the Church is in trouble, and all the earth sits still, and is at, rest. When you see Christians kingdoms broken with wars and tumults, and heathen nations in peace and quiet. His providences are ever righteous, but sometimes very mysterious.(6) There is a wheel in the midst of a wheel (Ezekiel 1:16, and ver. Ezekiel 10:10 of this chap.). Their appearance and their work was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. This implies a transverse motion, like the circles in a globe, that cut and cross each other. It is to show us how cross and contrary the motions of Providence are to our apprehensions and designs. He brings about His purposes by contrary means. Haman lays a plot against the Jews, to cut off all the people of God in one day; and the king himself was in the plot too; letters were written, the thing agreed on. The wheel seems to run very smoothly; but mark the next words, it was turned to the contrary; and in the day that the enemy thought to have power over the Jews, that the Jews had power over them that hated them. Here's a wheel in the midst of a wheel. Who can understand the intricacies of Providence? The working of this inward wheel is seen many ways. When God shall make such impressions upon the spirits of men as shall have their effect in their utter ruin, is not this from the wheel within?(7) The wheels are sometimes at a stop, they stand stiff. So you read (ver. 18 of this 10th chap.). When the cherubims stood, the wheels stood. This sometimes is really so. God suspends the ordinary operation of the creatures. The lions' mouths are shut so long as Daniel is in the den. The fire hath no power upon the three martyrs. God can stop the motions of all second causes as He pleases. The sun stands still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, if God will have it so. The sea divides, and the waters stand as a wall to fence out a passage for Israel. God can put a stand to the greatest wheels. Israel in Egypt cries for deliverance, God promises the thing, and sends Moses to effect it; but instead of being delivered, their bondage is increased, and their task doubled. The wheels seem to stand.(8) The wheels are said to have all one likeness (Ezekiel 1:16; Ezekiel 10:10). They four had one likeness. Likeness in colour and appearance. Their appearance was like the colour of a beryl (Ezekiel 1:16). Likeness in situation, none higher than other: likeness in dimension, none greater or lesser than other. This teacheth us that there are the same dispensations of Providence in all times and all places, alike changes and vicissitudes everywhere (Ecclesiastes 9:2). All times have their turns, and all places their changes, as well one as another. That which befalls one nation befalls another; in all parts of the world the wheels are the same, all move to accomplish the purposes of God; alike in end, all move to promote the glory of God.(9) The wheels are upon the earth (Ezekiel 1:15). "As I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures." He mentions but one wheel, because he that saw one saw all, by reason of their likeness. But how could the wheel be seen on the earth, when the prophet saw the vision in heaven? As the wheels were not material wheels, but visional; so this earth was not the material earth, but earth in a vision; and so it was not the earth beneath, but an earth above. The wheels are said to be seen on the earth, and not in heaven, to intimate to us the difference between this state and that. This is a state of changes, but that state is unchangeable; the wheels are on earth, there are none in heaven. As there are no changes in God, I am the Lord, I change not (Malachi 3:6); so there are no changes in the glory that results from His presence. All things in that state are durable and permanent. In heaven, where all graces are perfect, there all our comforts are constant. But here, where all our duties are mixed with infirmities, no wonder if all our comforts have their alloys. It is the wisdom of God to proportion our outward condition to our inward disposition, which is mixed and chequered. The wheels are seen upon the earth.(10) The wheels are acted by the living creatures (Ezekiel 1:19; Ezekiel 10:16, 17). The living creatures in the first chapter are the cherubims in this, and they are the angels that are intended by both. And that which is the design of the Holy Ghost in these expressions is to confirm this truth, that all inferior causes are acted and governed by causes superior. No creature moves below without a guide above. When the cherubims went, the wheels went. The angels have a great hand in the government of the world. And therefore if we will have any more distinct account of the motions of the wheels, we must then observe the motions of the angels. And concerning them, here are three things to be remarked —

1. Their going.

2. Their being lifted up.

3. Their returning.

1. Their going. It is said they went; and this going of theirs hath two circumstances not to be passed by.

(1)They went straight forward.

(2)They ran.(1) They went straight forward. "They went"; there was no cessation. "They went forward"; there was no interruption. "They went straight forward," without diversion. Had they looked back, that had denoted unwillingness. Had they turned aside, that had spoken out frowardness. Had they given over before they had completed their course, that had argued weariness. And this carriage of the angels is instructive in three duties. To be diligent in the Lord's work. It is the rule God gives us (Ecclesiastes 9:10). You have motives to this both from without and within; both from below and from above. From without. How industrious are wicked men in the service of sin, making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. And shall they take more pains to damn their souls than we do to save ours? You have motives from within. How active is indwelling sin in the heart; what vigorous efforts doth it make to set up its dominion within, to gratify every lust, to spoil every duty, to root out the habits of grace, to quench all the motions of the spirit. You have motives from beneath. How restless are the infernal spirits against your souls; and should not this awaken us out of our sinful slumbers, and quicken us to duty? the apostle proposes it for that end (1 Peter 5:8). You have motives from above. The good angels of God, oh, how active are they in all their ministrations; therefore called flames of fire (Psalm 104:4), because of their agility and fervency in fulfilling the commands of God.(2) Another duty this carriage of the angels teaches us is to mind our way and have our eye to the mark. "They turned not when they went." They looked not this way or that, but straight forward, to accomplish that which was their appointed work. As the apostle said (Philippians 3:14), I press toward the mark. Of all things be sure to mind this, to have an eye to special duty; this is going straight forward. This carriage of the angels instructs us to persevere in the ways of God, without being weary. The cherubims went straight forward, and turned not when they went; and shall not the wheels do so too? Shall we begin in the spirit and end in the flesh? (Galatians 5:7).(3) There is another circumstance in their motion, and that is the speed of it; they ran (Ezekiel 1:14). The living creatures ran...as the appearance of a flash of lightning, which notes their great speed and swiftness in doing the will of God; and therefore they are described with wings (Ezekiel 1:6). Every one had four wings. In Daniel 9:21 it is said, Gabriel came flying to him swiftly. And this shows us what our duty is, namely, To labour that the will of God may be done on earth by us, as it is done in heaven by angels. So was David (Psalm 119:60). Hasty purposes are usually clogged with show performances. So the Apostle Paul. Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. A ready obedience is a good proof of the power and virtue of grace in the heart, and renders the duty highly acceptable to God.

2. They are lifted up. The living creatures were lifted up from the earth (Ezekiel 1:19 and Ezekiel 10:17). The expression may be taken either in an active or a passive sense. Take it actively, the living creatures lift up themselves from the earth, and the wheels lifted up themselves also, and then it imports their looking up to heaven for direction and assistance. So do the angels, and so do the wheels, to teach us that there is no moving right in the work of God, without direction and assistance from God; therefore says David, To Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul (Psalm 25:1). Wisdom to guide the undertaking, help to perfect the performance, and success to crown the service. If the expression be taken in a passive sense, then this lifting up imports a Divine power influencing the creatures in a more than ordinary manner, to fit them for some eminent service. It is said of Jehoshaphat, that his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord (2 Chronicles 17:6), i.e. he was carried above all discouragements and difficulties; and made strong and valiant for God and His work. This teaches us that God doth sometimes spirit second causes in an unwonted manner, and elevates them above themselves. So it was with David's worthies; of one of whom it is said, he lifted up his spear against eight hundred. whom he slew at one time (2 Samuel 23:8). There is a notable promise referring to this in Zechariah 11:8. He that is feeble among them shall be as David, and the house of David as the angel of the Lord. Let the Spirit of the Lord but lift up some Zerubbabel to set on foot temple work, and nothing shall hinder; what though there be a Samaritan faction at home, and that backed with a foreign confederacy with the Persian court? What great things did the apostles do in the infancy of the Gospel! Lord, even the devils are subject to us through Thy name (Luke 10:17).

3. There is the return of the living creatures. So it is said (Ezekiel 1:14). The living creatures ran and returned; but this seems to contradict the ninth and twelfth verses, for there it is said, They turned not when they went. But this receives an easy solution. They turned not from going and doing the work appointed them; but when that work was done, then they returned. They turned not from executing their commission, but then they returned to receive new instructions. And hence they are called watchers (Daniel 4:13). Behold a watcher, and an holy one, and (ver. 17), This matter is by the decree of the watchers. They watch for God's orders to execute them for the Church's good; and this teaches us two things.(1) That God will have an account of all the work He hath given us to do. As the angels return, so do the wheels. Every one of us must give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12). There are none of us but have somewhat or other to account to God for.(2) We are taught hereby never to be weary of the work God sets us to do: one duty should fit us for another (Galatians 6:9). Thus by the wheels being acted by the cherubims we learn what a perfect harmony there is among all second causes in their dependence upon and subjection to the wise and holy God.

4. Here is another thing ascribed to these wheels, and that is, the influencing virtue of the same spirit which acted the living creatures (Ezekiel 1:20). The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. By the spirit here is meant the Divine Spirit, the eternal Spirit of God: the same Spirit that acts the living creatures, acts the wheels also; which in chap. Ezekiel 10:17 is called the Spirit of Life; and this is that Spirit which guided all their motions; therefore it is said (Ezekiel 1:12), Whither the Spirit was to go, they went. There is not an angel in heaven, nor a wheel upon earth, but are all acted and governed by the same Spirit. As the Spirit was concerned in the framing of the wheels; so He is in the motions of them: as He was in the creating of all things; so He is in all their operations. Lastly, these wheels are under the direction of a voice: as there are eyes round about them to guide them in their way, so there is a voice above them to command their motions. As for the wheels, it was cried to them, O wheel! This cry is the voice of Him that sits upon the throne (ver. 1). And though it be particularly directed to Jerusalem, yet in a more general sense it is intended to the whole world, to all kingdoms, cities, churches, to all people. But why is the cry made to one wheel, when here is mention of more? It was cried to the wheels, O wheel! It is to show us that all inferior causes, and instruments, are but as one in the hand of the Lord. But though all creatures are included in these wheels, yet rational agents are principally intended; and if so, then to you is this word cried; and perhaps it is therefore made in the singular number, that everyone may look on it as his duty to hearken to the voice of God in the cry. As in giving out the decalogue, it is so directed that everyone may think himself concerned. Great desires, great joys, great grief, and great love are frequently thus expressed; and so this "O!" is a servant to the affections.

1. It is an "O" of discipline, by which we are instructed to admire and adore the wonders of Providence. The voice is from the throne, but it is to direct us at the footstool; therefore it is said, It was cried in my hearing, O wheel! (Romans 11:33).

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