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Ezekiel 20:41

41. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.

41. In odore bonae fragrantiae propitius ero vobis cum eduxero vos e populis, et collegero vos ex terris, per quas dispersi eritis, et sanctificabor in vobis in oculis gentium.


He continues the same sentiment, namely, that the people’s worship would be acceptable, when those who had formerly been deceived by their superstitions had bidden them farewell, and follow the law only. He uses the word “savor,” according to the customary legal form, not because incense was pleasing to God, but because external ceremonies were no vain discipline for the people when they retained the truth. For surely incense of itself is of no consequence, but God wished in a palpable manner to testify that he did not reject the sacrifices which he had commanded. Hence, by these forms of speech, the Holy Spirit signifies that God was truly appeased when men approach him with sincere faith and repentance, and desire to be reconciled, and suppliantly pray for pardon by ingenuous confession of sin, and look up to Christ this is the savor which Moses everywhere teaches was sweet, to God. But as the incense of the law was always sweet, so all others were offensive, as we have already seen. The Prophet, therefore, adds nothing new here, but confirms his former teaching, that God delights in the pure and sincere worship of the faithful, when they try nothing but by his law. Afterwards, says he, I will lead you out frown the people, and will collect you frown the lands through which you have been dispersed. He repeats the same words which were formerly used, but with another sense and purpose; since, while he redeems alike the hypocrites and his elect, the offered liberty does not profit the hypocrites: because, wherever they might dwell, their station was in the wilderness; and even in the very bosom of the land of Canaan they were exiles, and their life was erratic, and they were without any enjoyment of the promised inheritance, but wandered in the desert, and through distant regions. For although they dwelt in the midst of a crowd, yet such was their condition that God had deservedly threatened them with remaining in the wilderness of the Gentiles even till death. But now, when he speaks of the elect and the faithful, he makes a difference between them and the hypocrites. For a question might otherwise arise, since all were apparently alike, What was the tendency of the promise, that some should be exiles and others return to their inheritance? For Daniel never returned to his country, and there is no doubt that other pious worshipers of God were at, the same time held back: but we know how sinful a multitude returned to Judea when the edict of Cyrus permitted them. For all were afterwards attentive to their own private business: the temple was neglected; God was defrauded of his first-fruits and offerings; they married strange wives; and mingled polygamy with their sacrifices. (Haggai 1:4.) We have already seen how sharply and severely the three last prophets inveigh against them. Since many returned into the land of Canaan in their unchanged state, and who had better remained in Chaldaea: for this reason the Prophet directs his discourse to the elect, and says that they should not only be brought back, but when restored, as if by stealth, their worship would be pleasing to God in the land. When, therefore, I shall have brought you forth, I shall be sanctified in you before the eyes of the Gentiles. God was in some sense sanctified in the wicked, because they became an illustrious specimen of his power when the Chaldaeans were slain, and his temple erected a second time. But here the Prophet, as I have said, separates the elect from the reprobate, since God was sanctified in them in a special manner, when a new Church emerged again, in which piety, true religion, and holiness of life flourished. When, therefore, such a spectacle was offered to the eyes of the Gentiles, then God asserted his glory among his faithful ones. Lastly, these passages are to be read conjointly, that he will be propitious to them, and will be pleased with their first-fruits and offerings, and he will be sanctified in the eyes of the Gentiles: as it is said in Psalm 114:2, When Israel went out of Egypt, Israel was God’s power, and Judea his sanctification, or sanctity. It follows —

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