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the quickness of their apprehensions, | West-Smithfield, upon which houses and the excellence of their parts, than are now erected, as a church-yard or for the soundness of their constitu- burying-place. During this pestition, or the genuine goodness of their lence, fifty thousand persons were health. What an impressive com- there buried. In the reign of the ment is this on the text, "in the emperor Vespatian, in Rome alone, midst of life we are in death," and there died ten thousand daily, and how imperatively does it behove the this awful sacrifice of human lives young to remember how soon they continued for several days. And in may be like the flower, now beautiful the year 1345, the pestilence was so and blooming, but in the evening general throughout the Christian withering by the blast or the breath of world, that it destroyed more than some infectious disease and cut down, one half of those whom its infection fleeing like the shadow and disap- reached. In the reign of Justinian, pearing from the stay, on which is at Constantinople, there died fifty engraven in ineffacible characters thousand daily. The African plague both for young and old-no continu- was no less awful and destructive in its track. Commencing at Carthage, it destroyed in its course in Numidia alone, eighty thousand; on the seacoast of Africa, two hundred thousand; and about Utica, thirty thousand soldiers. In the time of Petrarch, in Italy, such was the desolating march of the plague which then prevailed, that out of every thousand not ten persons survived. In the metropolis, at the great plague about a century and a half since, it has been calculated that more than one hundred thousand souls perished in the city and the adjacent villages. The disconsolate city deserted by its inhabitants-trade ceased-the courts of law closed, and the whole country as in a state of mourning for the poor and destitute condition of London.
The Hebrew word, which we render pestilence," signifies, or is rather derived from a word that signifies, to speak. And truly, indeed, God speaks aloud in the pestilence; and when he speaks, it is but fit that young and old, the weak and strong, should obey his voice, and resign all to him, even should that all be the best and dearest object of our earthly affections and solicitude!
The plague kills by multitudes, and sweeps off thousands at once. Like another Sampson, it lays heaps upon heaps. In the time of the plague, and in the midst of its ravages, we may say of it as Isaiah said of the grave, "hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth shall descend into it." At such a time persons of all classes post on apace unto their graves; so that many times there are more guests than there are receptacles, and the living are scarcely sufficient to bury the dead; or the church-yard to receive the multitude of its tenants! That this is no ideal representation of the march and effects of its ravages, a reference to historical facts will abundantly attest. In the year 1349, the plague raged in England to such a fearful extent, as that scarcely a tenth part of the population of the country, of all classes, was left alive! The churches and church-yards could not contain the dead; and in the metropolis, it was found necessary to consecrate a large spot of ground, in
Another awful effect incident to the plague is, it dispatches the infected in an instant, as it were. They who are blooming in their health and luxuriating in their strength, in a few hours are pale and speechless; and there they lie stretched, convulsed, and ghastly on the bed of death. Wherever it approaches, its work is quick and sure. It grasps its victim, and the moment it coils around him it crushes and flings him prostrate to the charnel house of the dead! It has been thought that the plague, to which my text refers, lasted but the space of nine hours: yet, however this be, or whether it continued the whole of three days, as originally threatened, within that short period of time it swept off from Dan to Beersheba, exclusive of women and children, seventy thousand men !
Thus, while Joab, by the direction of | yet tasted of any of those bitter cups, David, was engaged nine months in the very dregs of the gall and bitternumbering the people, the execution ness of which thousands and thouof this appaling judgment was com- sands of those whom we hailed and pleted in so many hours, such quick recognised as countrymen have tasted work do judgments make, when sent even unto the death! We have not forth from the Lord to punish and tasted of the pestilence recorded in afflict the people for transgression and my text, nor much indeed have we sin! How long and potent was the suffered, practically nothing from those army of Sennacherib overnight; yet, other two judgments mentioned in in the morning, when they rose, there the chapter-I mean, the famine and was a number of dead corpses, no the sword. Of the famine happily, less than a hundred fourscore and it has visited us not. Thank Gop, of five thousand warriors, all these died war we have outlived its rage and in their tents, in one night! All the continuance for five and twenty years, first-born in Egypt were taken off by and sixteen or seventeen years of the plague in one night! Moses, peace have succeeded. May it be when Israel murmured, commanded perpetual; or should it be interAaron to haste and take his censor, rupted, may the same might, which and stand betwixt the living and the preserved us from a knowledge of dead; for the plague was begun, it war's actual and positive miseries, was but just begun, and Aaron ran still continue to be stretched out towith his incense, but when he came, ward and to keep off from our coasts in that short lapse of time, it had its multiplied horrors and internal mowed down no less than fourteen ravages-the devastation of our vilthousand and seven hundred, as you lages-the depopulation of our cities, will find on referring to that impor- and the extermination or slavery of tant chapter of Numbers, the six- their inhabitants, with all those teenth, so singular for its historical other evils incidental to the prenarrative and its typical or spiritual sence of war within our borders. signification! How striking is the The Almighty GoD has hitherto kept comparison employed by the psalmist, his bitter arrow of the plague from to represent the quick and sudden us. Let us consider within ourselves, manner in which the pestilence as- are we better than those who perished sails its victims-he calls it "an in the pestilence in Israel, or in the arrow that flies," intimating that its plague in London, or in that of Jepassage is so quick and its coming rusalem, or in that of Constantinople, so abrupt, as to afford them scarcely or in that of other places in which it any time to make their peace with so vehemently and destructively raged God, and to prepare for death and in times past, numbering the slain eternity. by tens and even by hundreds of thousands? Are not the same sins as great, and as many, to be found in us, as in other places? The Prophet exclaimed, “Oh Lord, take away my life," and he assigned this as the reason, "for I am not better than my Fathers; it is fit I die as well as they, for I am as bad as they." And may not we, with equal justice, adopt this ejaculation of Elijah, and admit that in consistency of living and purity of practice, we fall miserably below the measure and standard of Christian truth-that, in a word, we are not better than were our forefathers. We live,-well, but to whom is our existence to be ascribed? Surely nothing but to the distinguishing
My brethren, it is now time for me after having described the character and effects of this angel of destruction, to see whether some use, and what use may be made of this judgment and to press it upon your most serious regard and attention.
We have seen that of all heaven's visitations, sore, and most afflicting, is that of the pestilence. Now let this be the first use or improvement you make of it. Let it stir you up to give solemn and hearty thanks to GOD for his gracious dealings and wonderful goodness towards us, that the plague hath not come nigh our dwellings, nor assailed our persons that yet we are safe. We have not
grace and mercy of Gon, who still waits upon us to see, whether we will reform our lives, and amend our doings, without recourse being had to those penal measures, and afflicting dispensations with which he scourges, as with the rod, those who grieve not for their sins, and turn not from their backslidings. If we have not yet been scourged with the pestilence, let us offer praise and thanksgiving for the mercy and patience of Gop, and let each of us say, "I will bless the Lord, who hath kept mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling." Let us exercise ourselves much in prayer and communion with GOD, and let it form a prominent feature in our petitions, that the Almighty would still continue to save and secure us from this sore and impending evil; for none but GOD can prevent its approach and preserve us from its infection. It is not the purity of the air-it is not the cleanliness of the streets-it is not the sober habits of the people nor the vigilant care of the magistrates -it is not the senatory measures of the wise and cautious-no; it is God alone, who can protect and preserve us from this noisome distemper and disease. What was the feeling of David on this subject? the appropriate religious impression on his mind? That, my brethren, which I would that you should cherish and entertain under this, as under every other visitation sent from above. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress: my GOD; in him will I trust. Surely he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence." True piety has GoD always in the thought, and ascribes every thing to him alone. But it is not only from the stroke of this disease that he can preserve us. Such is the sympathy between the mind and the body, that what strongly agitates the former, often deranges and disorganizes the latter; and of all the emotions, that of fear is often found most powerfully to paralyse and enfeeble the corporeal powers. Here also the mercy of the Most High shines out most beautifully-and from this enervating emotion GoD too is the refuge and preserver of his peo
ple! What mountains of difficulty cannot a firm trust in him level?" He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers;" and then follows this consolitary passage, "Thou shalt not be afraid of any terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day—nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the sickness that destroyeth in noon day!" As prayer is the ship in which are chartered and conveyed all the rich blessings of heaven to us; so it is also the shield by which all evil things are warded off, and kept at a distance from us. Hence our blessed Lord directed us to say to God in our prayers, in that most beautiful and comprehensive form of sound words, his own most perfect prayer, “ Deliver us from evil.” GOD can do many things in mercy as he pleases; but still his pleasure is to do these things in a way of prayer; "I will do those things, saith God, but yet I will be sought unto for to do them ;" and we read that when Israel sought the Lord in their trouble, he was found of them. The whole of the Scriptures indeed abound with passages of the like import, and therefore, in all our maladies and troubles, let us have recourse to prayer, as that which will most effectually afford to the mind relief, and be the best fence to protect your persons, your families and relations from "the arrow that flieth by day, and the pestilence that walketh in darkness." And the most effectually to protect and fortify yourselves within this fence, impregnable if raised by the hand of piety and sincerity, avoid all those sins by which the plague is occasioned and the Almighty moved to afflict individuals and nations with this most apalling and desolating scourge. Avoid them, lest the fierce anger of the Lord shall be enkindled and that shall be realized which is recorded of his wrath in the book of Numbers. "I the Lord have said I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me; in this wilderness they shall be consumed!" And it is then added, "Even those died by the plague before the Lord.”
AT MARGARET-STREET CHAPEL, CAVENDISH-SQUARE, SUNDAY EVENING, sept. 15, 1830.
John, xvi. 28-32. "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now, speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee, by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
THE difficulties which pressed on the minds of the disciples, and which by these words of our Blessed Lord are cleared up to them, were these: first, what our Lord meant by the "little while" in which they should not see him; and next, what he meant by the terms in which his departure from them was expressed, "because I go to the Father." These were the difficulties which they felt, and which they had discussed amongst themselves; but which, as it would seem, they were reluctant to make known to their Lord, either ashamed of their own ignorance, or disinclined at this solemn season to trouble him with needless enquiries.
Jesus, however, who knew what was in man, and needed not to be informed of what was passing in their minds, anticipates their enquiries, and resolves their difficulties he takes pains to correct their too sanguine expectations of immediate deliverance from the yoke under which
they were, and of the instant establishment of his kingdom: he enlarges on the nature and the privileges of their condition in the intermediate period of his absence and leads them to look beyond the "little while" of trouble, to the joyful period when he shall again appear to them to bless them; and then, in the opening words of the text, he most explicitly and unequivocally declares the meaning of what he had said concerning his departure: I came forth from the Father, and am come into world : again, I leave the world and go to the Father." His disciples appear immediately to have been struck with the plain and explicit character of this declaration. "His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb "no dark saying. "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God."
Two things seemed to have struck | Lord intimates that they now underthe minds of the disciples, and pro- stand him correctly: "Jesus anduced a deep impression; first, that swered them, Do ye now believe? without the slightest intimation from Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now them, Jesus should have been aware come, that ye shall be scattered, of the difficulty which they felt and every man to his own, and shall of the conversation which they had leave me alone: and yet I am not had among themselves; and, secondly, alone, because the Father is with they were struck with the clear and exme." plicit way in which he now explained himself. He had not before spoken so plainly on this point. He had, indeed, told them of his death, and of his resurrection; and in this very discourse he had told them he was going to leave them: but where he was going, and the way, they knew not as yet now he explains it in language which they could not possibly mistake. Before, perhaps, it is possible they might have put some figurative and enigmatical meaning on the saying that he went to the Father; but now, by referring to his entrance into the world, and placing his departure in a parallel with that, there could be no mistake; two meanings could not now be assigned to his words; as he came from the Father, so now he went to the Father.
I must notice here, in passing, the strong confirmation which these words afford to the interprétation we have before given to the expression, "a little 'while," as being the time of his ses"sion at the right hand of the Father
the time between his ascension and his second coming. Let it be remembered that this was the great difficulty of the disciples; and now, when he had spoken these words, (which have no reference whatever to the few ~hours which he lay in the grave, but which wholly relate to his ascension into heaven), they express themselves perfectly satisfied; they now assuredly understood that the "little while" "of his ascension should be the time from his going to the Father to his coming again. And the reply of our
It would seem very astonishing to us, if we were not in some measure acquainted, by experience, with the deceitfulness of the human heart, and with the power of remaining sin, even in the people of God, it would seem very astonishing to us that the disciples should have expressed themselves as if there had been, even up to this time, some lurking unbelief in their hearts respecting Jesus as the Messiah. "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God." We know, 'undoubtedly, that long before this, Saint Peter had witnessed a good confession; and we cannot doubt but that, at least, it was acquiesced in by the rest of the apostles; although, unquestionably, the honor of the confession, and its peculiar reward, belong to Saint Peter 'alone. "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." This confession is as full as it well could be: for in the question which our Lord asked, he spoke of himself as man: "whom do men say that I the son of man am?" The reply, therefore, involved three things; that he was the son of man-that he was also the son of God and that this glorious person, uniting both persons, was the true Messiah. Nothing, therefore, could be more full and explicit than this confession made by Saint Peter, some time previous to the period when the words of the text were spoken. And yet we find from the