by John Berridge
Ezek. 36: 25, 26, 27.—Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. Then, when I shall have taken them from among the heathen.
Sin makes a sinner guilty before God
…filthy in ourselves; both a guilty and filthy creature: guilty, as being contrary to the authority of God ; filthy, as being contrary to the holiness of God. Guilt produces fear; filth produces shame.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall he clean.
A fountain is opened for sin and uncleanness—a type of the blood of Christ. This must be sprinkled on the unclean : an application must be made of the blood of Christ, and made by the Spirit of God. This typified by the water of purification: Num. 19. This cleanseth from all filthiness, and from all idols. Henceforth the sprinkled sinner saith, What have I to do any more with idols ? Hos. 14. 8. The Lord is my God.
A new spirit will I put within you. —A meek and lowly spirit; a child-like teachable spirit; a kind and brotherly spirit; a forgiving merciful spirit.
I will take away the stony heart. —Insensible of its own hardness, and of sin, and of God’s love; unapt to receive divine impressions, or to return devout affections, inflexible.
And give you a heart of flesh. —A tender heart; sensible of sin ; mourning for it; humbled under it; fearful of God’s displeasure ; feeling the power of God’s word ; and sensible of spiritual pleasure and pain.
He does not say, I will take away the stony heart, if you do not resist me; nor yet, I will earnestly persuade you to take it away : but he says absolutely, I, myself, will take it away, making it wholly his own act. Hence the event is certain ; for God by the sweet and powerful operations of his Spirit effectually overcomes the resistance of the will. Hence renovation ensues, and conversion to God. Is nothing then to be done by the sinner? Yes, he says, For this will be inquired of; and a spirit of prayer is given for this purpose.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. —Now a spiritual nature is received, capable of spiritual worship and service. The wheels of obedience are now made, and set in order ; but a spring is yet wanting to set them a-going, which the Lord here promises to bestow. I will put my Spirit within you. Will before was given, now power; and constant additional supplies of his Spirit are needful to keep the wheels going. Then shall ye loathe yourselves: ver. 31.
While we feel sin within us to condemn us, faith discovers a righteousness without us, which can justify us ; and while we rejoice in Christ, as the Lord our righteousness, we shall ever have cause enough in ourselves for humiliation. The gospel teaches men to feel sin, and believe for righteousness.
Faith will carry heaven in one hand, and hell in the other: hell as deserved by us; heaven as purchased for us. It will also powerfully incline us to respect all the commandments of God. –by John Berridge, “Brief Comments on Ezekiel 36”
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Berridge (February 1716 − January 22, 1793) was an Anglican evangelical revivalist and hymnist. He was born in Kingston, Nottinghamshire and educated at Clare College, Cambridge. He was the son of a wealthy grazier in Nottinghamshire. In 1749, he was ordained to the parish of Stapleford, near Cambridge. In 1755 he became Vicar of Everton. He never married.
By 1758 he would ride on horseback far and wide across the whole of Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. He preached up to twelve open-air sermons and travelled over 100 miles each week. Berridge, the vicar of Everton, was commended by John Wesley as one of the most simple as well as most sensible of all whom it pleased God to employ in reviving primitive Christianity. C.H. Spurgeon included John Berridge on his list of Eccentric Preachers “Take for instance John Berridge. Berridge was quaint by nature. In the former lecture I quoted purposely from his letters rather than from any of his sermons or didactic works, because in a letter you see a man at ease. Berridge could not help being singular, for the form of his mind led him in that direction, and his bachelor life helped to develop his idiosyncrasies. His quaintness was all his own, and you see it in his household arrangements…” He died at the age of 77 and thousands attended his funeral. At his own request John Berridge was buried on the north-east side of Everton churchyard as “a means of consecrating it”. This piece of ground had previously been reserved for those who had come to a dishonourable end. His gravestone is a testament to his humble faith.