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Ilow wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan.—[Jer. 12: 5. The Jordan is a river in the Holy Land, which rises in Mount Lebanon, and rolls on through the lake of Gennesareth into the Dead Sea. On ordinary occasions it is small and tame; but in the Spring, when the snows of Lebanon begin to melt, it becomes wild and chafey, and pours along in a fearful deluge, threatening the country on all sides. Wo to him who attempts to cross it, while it is in this angry mood! This is called “the swelling of Jordan."

Not only is there danger, at this time, from the angry floods; but, the Jordau having double banks, one for low water, the other, farther out, for high water, the space between is a thicket of bushes and reeds, where wild and dangerous beasts find a lair when the river is low, but from which they are driven by its swellings; these prowl out into the country, a terror to all they meet. To this the prophet alludes when he says, of the enemy that shall come up against Israel : “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong." Jer. 49: 19.

At the time when the prophet spake the words under our caption, the children of Israel deserved judgments for their disobedience to God, and their idolatrous service of Baal. As always, God's judgments tarry not neither does his righteousness sleep. He tells them of rising evils, that are rolling up like angry waves towards them from all sides. He had previously visited them by small judgments, whose approach he compares to feeble footmen; and even these were too strong for them; what now will they do when more formidable evils appear-evils which he compares with triumphant troops of horsemen, whose rage is like the " swellings of Jordan." As though God would say, in holy irony,

“Now make thyself strong, O rebellious Israel, and withstand my judg. ments.” But what reason have you to hope that you shall prevail against the strength of your God ? For, “if thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses ? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan ?"

The principle laid down by the prophet is this : If we are not able in our own strength to resist effectually the smaller judgments of God, it is folly to think of resisting the larger ones.

If small evils overcome us, we cannot hope to withstand greater ones; and if it is necessary to think beforehand, how will we act when small afilictions and trials meet us, it is much more necessary to stand prepared for those which are, strength, like "horsemen,” and in rage, like the “swellings of Jordan.”

We might enlarge on this principle in numberless details, but we must confine ourselves to one particular. It is this : If the many small waves of trial and trouble, which roll against us in this life, often cast as down, in sorrow to the the earth, it is wise and necessary for us to ask beforehand how we will do in the dark and swelling waters of death, when our bark begins to buffet the waves of an eternal sea! If the waves of life trouble us, will not the waves of death trouble us more?

There is great propriety in comparing death with the swelling of Jordan. The idea of death as a streain, dividing this life from the life to come, is very ancient and very common. It is well known that the pagans of ancient Greece and Rome, conceived of a stream as rolling its dark waters between this and the future life, across which the dead

had to pass.

Death, under the image of a stream has also long been familiar to christian ideas. The Psalmist says, in view of those multitudes, which God's judgments carried away for their disobedience in the wilderness : "hou carriest them away as with a flood.”—Ps. 90: 5. Which idea is beautifully paraphrased by Watts :

Death, like an overflowing stream,

Sweeps us away; our life's a dream. The image is in every respect appropriate, beautiful and impressive. A stream—how calm, and yet how mighty! So is death. A streamhow solemn and doleful are its low mysterious murmurs ! So is death. A stream-ever changing, and yet ever the same, so is death; one gen. eration follows another, and the stream is unbroken-mortals are always gliding on it after one another, and yet never are the same ones long

A stream-how its surface changes—now, sweet as a May morning, it "breaks into dimples and laughs in the sun;" and now it grows sullen, dark, rough and raging! So is death. When a christian approaches it, its features grow calm as those of a sleeping infant; and when a sinner draws near, it heaves, and foams, and frowns like a whirlpool, and throws up is gaping waves to offer him a cold and fearful embrace. A stream also, bears all that is cast apon it, or that flows into it, to the ocean; so death carries all away to the eternal sea. How very properly, therefore, is death compared to a stream, that flows along the evening side of this mortal life, dividing this narrow life of probation from the solemn mysteries of an eternal state !


Just as familiar as it is to christian ideas to call death a stream, so common is it to call this stream Jordan. This habit of calling death Jordan, originates from the fact that Canaan, which as the land of promise, and a type of heaven, was divided from the wilderness in which the children of promise wandered, by this stream. While the Israelites were yet sojourners in the desert, they could often, from eminences, see the land of promise, but Jordan yet rolled between. Our journey through the wilderness of this world towards the heavenly Canaan, is compared to that journey. We too, do often get upon some Tabors and Pisgahs of faith, from which we can view the realms of the heavenly Canaan, but the Jordan of death lies yet between. This idea is alluded to in a familiar and beautiful hymn :

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,

And cast a wishful eye,
To Canaan's fair and happy land,

Where my possessions lie,
Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,

Stand dressed in living green ;
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,

While Jordan rolled between. Jordan then is an emblem of the stream of death, and its swellings a type of the formidable trials and troubles which we may expect then to meet.

Stand upon the banks of a large river when it is swollen by the floods pouring into it from a thousand tributaries ! What a fearful sight. What a roar and noise of many waters ! How the hurrying waves do lash each other! What a fearful tumbling of tree-tops and timbers. Fences, bridges, houses, and sometimes even beasts and human beings, all carried along in the most horrid confusion, and with a force which defies all human resistance! And this is a picture of the stream of death! Then the idea of launching into it-its cold water, its dismal depth, and its rushing, roaring tide. No wonder that while we stand and gaze into it we feel a creeping horror. No wonder that

Timorous mortals start and shrink,

To cross this narrow sea ;
And linger, shivering, on the brink,

And fear to launch away. Death is something fearful in its nature, and we instinctively shrink from it. Everything that lives abhors death, and shrinks from it. Even flowers grow pale and gloomy before they die. The leaf fades mournfully. In autumn, when the vegetable creation die, the very earth mourns, the woodlands sigh their doleful dirges, and the very heavens look gloomy and sad. In the animal creation, none yields up its life without the severest resistance; and when overcome, it complains in fainter, and still fainter cries, till its exhausted voice is at last still in death. Even the worm writhes and rolls for life under the foot which is crushing it. So painful, so hateful, so awful is death!

In man, this horror of death is, if possible, still stronger, because he has not only death to fear, but also what lies beyond. He will fly any. where, rather than into the swellings of Jordan. "All that a man haih will be give for his life." He will lie bid in dungeons from the light of day-he will groan and wear out his life inch by inch, under the most galling ills, rather than fly for refuge into the cold arms of death. Whatever they may be, he

“Rather bears the ills he has,

Than flies to others which he knows not of.'" That old fable hides a deep trath: An old man bowed down with age and pains, was compelled to carry the wood which was to keep him from perishing, upon his back. Once, in the deepest anguish he threw down his merciless burden, and called upon death to relieve him from his wo. Death came, and asked him what his wish was. The old man said to Death, he wished to have his burden raised upon his back again! This is nature. No difference how heavy the load of human ills is, all would rather bear it than be relieved of it by so terrible a friend as Death. Life may be cold, and its dark waters of sorrow may rise fearfully around the heart, but all this rather than the “swellings of Jordan." No one will enter, of his own accord, into this dark stream, unless driven by madness or despair. The last ray of hope must first fade from his sky, the last glimmer of reason must die in his soul, or he must first persuade himself that, beyond this life, reigns nothing but dark oblivion, before he can rush, of his own accord, into the cold embraces of Death. So fearful, to our instinctive nature, are the "swellings of Jordan."

The Scriptures give us the same ideas of this gloomy river. It speaks of death always in mournful tones. It is described by the most fearful images. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadows of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”--Job 10: 22. In the scriptures generally, "death and Hell,” are associated together, as being congenial friends. The most horrid picture we have of death, is when he is personified as appearing to John in his prophetic vision on the isle of Patmos. “I looked, and beheld a pale horse : and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”—Rev. 6:8. Paul calls him “the last enemy." When all life's “woes without number,” have been conquered, or have been borne ; when we have fought our way to the very portals of the eternal statethere he stands !

O sight
Of terror, foul and ugly to behold,
Horrid to think, bow terrible to feel !

Black as night he stands,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,

And sbakes a dreadful dart. If he lets us pass, it is only with a mortal wound, and we pass him only to plunge into “the swellings of Jordan."

It is, however, not merely the nature of death, and men's instinctive fears of it, that makes death as the swellings of Jordan. The tempest which causes these swellings is to be found, in a great extent, in the soul of him who comes to the crossings of this dark river. It has been said that sometimes blood goes forth from the murderer's fingers, and stains what he touches ! So when the guilty man approaches, the bosom of Jordan heaves into fearful swellings. When Jonah entered into the ship, then the winds arose, “the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.” He said: "I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” So when, he who has spent his life in sin comes to the crossings, if he see the waves beat high and fearful, he may be sure, that it is on his account, that Jordan swells so angrily.

It is, then, those who come with guilty hearts-hearts unrenewed by the power of grace, hearts in which Jesus has no throne--it is to them that the swellings of Jordan are doubly wild. Those who have sowed to the wind in life, now reap the whirlwind in death. It is the candle of the wicked that goeth out in darkness. It is those who neglected at the right time to get the oil of grace, who now cry in darkness and despair, “our lamps are gone out !" It is those who regarded not when God held open the door of the ark, that are now the prey of devouring floods.

We can easily imagine how a guilty soul must feel when it once comes to confront these “swellings of Jordan.” The remembrance of past guilt rushes in upon the soul. He looks back, and sees nothing but a mis-spent life--yea, not only mis-spent, but stained with sin. There are a thousand mercies abused. There are a thousand calls and warnings slighted. There is the painful recollection of better days, which cannot be recalled. There is the harvest past, and the summer of life ended. In short, there is not one bright cheering spot in all the past of life upon which memory can fix for one moment of joy. All the past is a gloomy wilderness of wanderings and woes--and before are-- “the swellings of Jordan."

There he stands, indeed on “Jordan's stormy banks ;” or rather, he lies howling in spirit upon his hed! Had we never seen sinners on their death beds, we might believe in what sinners call the heroism of dying But we have stood at more than one bedside, and seen Christless, hopeless souls, struggling in “the swellings of Jordan.” Omy soul, come not thou into the secret of their sorrows.

In that dread moment, how the frantic soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement;
Runs to each avenue, and shricks for help;
But sbrieks in vain! How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving. now no longer hers !
A little longer; yet a little longer--
0! might she stay to wash away her stains ;
And fit her for her passago! Mournful sight!
Her very eyes weep blood; and every groan
She heaves is big with horror. But the foe,
Like a staunch murderer, etcady to his purpose,
Pursues ber close, through every lane of life;
Nor misses onco the track; but presses on
Till forced at last to the tremendous verge,

At once sho sinks to everlasting wo! We ought to take forethought as to what we will do in that hour of trial. Reason and common sense teach us that when we see dificulties ahead, we should calculate beforehand how we shall meet them. Especially ought we to be anxious about so great a matter, which we must surely mcet, when much smaller ones often cause us trouble. Sivners must confess that even the thought of death frequently alarms and troubles them! Even in health and strength, their thoughts often trouble them -in sickness they are filled with dread; how much more formidable than these must death be. “If thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee, tben how canst thou contend with horses ? and if

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