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lation might carry him through the appalling terrors of the scene which awaited him: GoD directed him to a text, which was the last upon which his eye rested. "This is life eternal, to know thee the only true GOD, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." And for many a saint, in his hardest conflict, and in his direst extremity, has this blessed truth sufficed. If we know God as our reconciled Father, all is well. We may be carried over dark, and troubled waters, but we shall be safe in the ark in which the Lord has shut us in; the tempest may sweep across the sky, but its violence cannot harm us, for we shall have found a haven.
But if Scripture knowledge is to produce such effects, it must never be separated from grace. This separation is one of the dangers which specially belong to a period of so much religious profession as the present. It is no breach of charity to believe, that there are many persons who pore on the pages of the Bible, and have become familiar with its statements, over whose lives, and conversation, its principles have never exercised any perceptible control. It falls within the limits of an easily imagined possibility, that we might | gather from the Bible, opinions of faultless accuracy, and frame a creed so scriptural, that its articles could not be impugned, and yet that while we were distinguished by an unwavering maintenance of such a creed, and were noted for sturdy partizanship of such an adopted system, we might be as far from the kingdom of GOD, as if we had never heard the sound of the Gospel, and no ray of truth had dawned upon the darkness of the soul. We can never become wise unto salvation, unless we go with the outpouring of humble hearts, to seek better guidance than our own, to ask for the gracious influences of
the spirit, whose office it is to convince of sin, and to subdue the hostility of the carnal mind, as well as to open the difficulties of the revealed word.
There is no necessary connexion between the gifts of the spirit, and the attainments of human learning; no confinement of the blessings of spiritual knowledge, to men whose minds are furnished with other stores. GoD often hides these things from the wise, and prudent, and reveals them unto babes. Many a tenant of the mud built cottage, is able to lay hold of the hope of immortality with firmness of grasp, which the ancient philosopher, and the modern sceptic could never attain. He may be able to tell nothing of the more abstruse, and recondite evidences, of his religion, but he can produce the evidence, which never fails to satisfy his own heart, which he derives from the complete, and wonderful adaptation of the Gospel, to his wants. It found him poor, and has left him rich; it found him ignorant, it has made him wise; he was by nature a sin polluted, and a sin ruined creature, and the Gospel has shown him, how his sin has been atoned for, its guilt for ever put away, the sentence of its condemnation cancelled, and its power curbed, and restrained. And GOD may often make such an one, though untaught in schools, to be the instrument of conversion to the wise of this world. Even many a minister on whose labours abundant success has rested, might bear his testimony, that he was first guided by providence, to such a lowly disciple, from whom he might gather much precious instruction in the realities of his religion, which he never learned in colleges and halls.
Such knowledge continually increases. As the believer goes on his way, he gradually discovers more of
the will, and the dealings of his Father. At first there might have been much of zeal, and less of knowledge; but while the former burns as brightly as when it was first kindled in his bosom, the latter is increased by continual accessions. It may be that as he draws near the close of his journey, and even when he is laid upon his dying bed, GOD may reveal to him many things which in his best, and brightest hours he had never been able to discern. Just as we may have seen how the ray of closing light, brings into view, distant objects, some village spire, or stately building upon the remote horizon, which the eye sought in vain, until the sun was sinking behind the western hills.
This knowledge shall not only form the staple of our earthly happiness, but shall outlast the span of our present existence, and reach forward into the outlying region of eternity. We doubt not that heaven will contain whatever of unimagined beauty, and grandeur, and sublimity can gladden the eye; that it will include whatever can call forth the warm affection of hearts, over which sin shall no longer have any control; but neither can we doubt that heaven
will be in the highest degree a place of intellect. The redeemed will make continual acquisitions of knowlege. It may be that the range of their observation will be indefinitely enlarged; that they may gaze with undazzled eye upon all the works of GOD, as they lie open to their view, through the wide extent of worlds, and systems; and that they may look back on the mighty designs which He has been rolling on from the beginning of time. Many a dark dispensation will be made clear; and as they trace the harmony between the administration of providence, and the dealings of grace, they will see how all things have been working together for good to the people of the Lord. And as they travel on their pathway of light, they will have for their companions the unfallen spirits, who will consecrate their lofty faculties to unrol the mysteries of divine love, which they desire to look into. And GoD shall advance his glorified saints, by continual revelations of Himself. Increasing knowledge shall be an element of that blessedness, which for aught we know, may increase in the same proportion for
DELIVERED BY THE REV. DR. RUDGE, F. R. S. IN THE CHURCH AT HAWKCHURCH, JUNE 10, 1833.
2 Samuel, xxiv. 15.-" The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel."
THERE is no point upon which men, from some obliquity in their understandings, and some eccentricity in their views, will not dispute and wrangle. Even the doctrine of a superintending Providence, and the fact
of a divine interposition in the affairs and government of the world, have been more than questioned, and the reasons upon which both are founded not possessing nor susceptible of receiving mathematical demonstration,
have been repudiated by those who | Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel." would seem to be wise above what Without controversy, therefore, the is written, and who have an over- fact is indisputable on the authority weening confidence in the strength of the revealed word; and the same of their own powers, and the import- interposition, which was exercised in ance of their own views on these and one, may continue to be exhibited in on other speculative subjects. In all every subsequent age, should it so inquiries after truth, the direction of will the divine mind, either for the the wise man should be observed; reformation of individuals or the pu"Trust in the Lord with all thine nishment of nations. The instrument heart, and lean not unto thine own by which the pestilence was sent, in understanding." And the principle, this particular instance, having been I conceive, upon which this direction noticed, a few words only will be is founded, is this, that as the under- necessary to state the occasion upon standing of man, even in its highest which this act of divine interposition state of cultivation is still obscured took place. The passage of Scripby much error, and liable to much ture is well known. prejudice, from which it is hopeless while its connection with the flesh subsists, entirely to emancipate it; it is both the holier and the happier course to trust in the Lord with the whole heart for light and illumination on every subject of inquiry, and even in every department of literature that no investigation into the mysteries of nature or science should be pursued without its being made subservient to that knowledge and to those discoveries with which the Scriptures enlighten and satisfy every truly philosophical intellect. Imbibing their spirit, and guided by their light, there is no perversity of opinions or eccentricity of views, into which the inquirer will fall to bewilder his own mind, and unsettle the principles and sentiments of others by insidious hints and sceptical remarks, which have no foundation in truth and wisdom and, therefore, have little weight or influence. Not irrelative do I consider these reflections to the doctrine inculcated, or, perhaps, I should better say, to the fact recorded in my present text. What is that doctrine, or fact? One of direct interposition, on the part of GOD, in the internal affairs, and national punishment, of the Israelites. "The
David for the purpose of ostentatious display-and acting without any direct authority from GOD, by whom he professed to be guided in all his transactions, but now trusting only in an armed flesh, and in the pride and circumstance of his host of subjects— caused the people to be numbered. In the book of Chronicles it is recorded, that this act was done at the instigation of satan. Be this, however, as it may, it subsequently produced in the mind of David great contrition, and we read that "his heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done." Though nothing of the kind is recorded, I have little difficulty in believing that the act itself was in contravention of some implied or expressed prohibition on the subject, on the part of GOD, since the subsequent punishment seems to be so disproportioned to the individual crime. The criminality of the act, however, having been so public, a public exhibition of Divine displeasure might seem requisite; and grievous, indeed, was the calamity to which the nation was doomed, in consequence of individual criminality. "The word of the Lord
came unto the prophet Gad, one of
our ways, and the reformation of our lives, if not for the punishment of our sins-the judgment of the pestilence, which the Lord hath sent upon our Israel, let us reflect a little upon its nature and properties. We shall find the pestilence to be a very sore and grievous calamity indeed. There is no fortress or defence against the plague-no armour of proof is sufficient to ward off the envenomed point of this arrow-no fence so strong as to keep it out, but the poison of it sub-creeps upon us in an indiscernible, invisible manner, and men are many times ready to drop into their graves, before they well know whether or not they have received the infection. "The pestilence," saith the Psalmist, "walks in darkness." It proceeds from hidden causes, of which we are unable to give any certain account. There is less of second causes, and greater appearance of the special interposition of GOD in this, than in other judgments with which we are scourged. It depends not upon the corruption of the air, or the putrefaction of the humours. No one knows the nature, nor can ascertain the properties of pestilential poison, and, therefore, it pursues and overtakes as it is directed and appointed, let the care and vigilance of men be ever so great to prevent its approach and avoid its infection or mitigate and subdue its effects. Men flee from the sword into forts and citadels and other places, in which their persons are protected and their lives preserved. Not so the pestilence-it will pursue them thither-it will reach them there, as saith the Prophet Ezekiel, “ they that be in the pits, and in the caves shall die of the pestilence." It not only enters the cottages of the poor, but it boldly invades the mansions of the nobility and the palaces of the princes. In the strong graphic language of the same Prophet," it lays the land most desolate causing the pomp of her strength to cease, and the mountains of her Israel to be laid low. King Hezekiah was sick of it, and, saith the Prophet Jeremiah, "death is come up into our windows and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without and the young men from the
Without dwelling further on this historical narrative, and only stating that “the plague was stayed from Israel" by the subsequent penitence and at the earnest instigation of David, after a great sacrifice of human lives, I shall now proceed to the main object for which I have selected this passage of Scripture for present consideration - namely, to describe the character and effects of that epidemic, which has been intruded into this country, now raging with a mitigated influence indeed amongst us, but which, from its first commencement, has swept off up to the period at which I am writing, nearly sixty thousand or more of the people and, in a neighbouring country within a few weeks only, upwards of twenty thousand souls! Of this judgment, then, with which we are now visited, in mercy I believe to our souls-for the consideration of
streets" so that no place is secured from this arrow.
The plague bereaves a man of his understanding and reason. It is a high and furious fever, the hot and noxious vapours of which turn the brain, and occasion those whom it has infected to roar and to rage. And how awfully affect ing such a spectacle of human agony and suffering! When we leave this world, we all hope that our thoughts may be collected-our frame calm and unruffled in the closing hours of mortal existence. But, in a case so piteous as the above, the unhappy individual can neither dispose of his outward affairs with discretion, nor attend to his spiritual concerns with that composure and tranquillity with which we are anxious to yield our souls into the hands of our Creator and Redeemer; he is in no situation in which he can judge of his estate, and adjust his accounts; he can neither meditate nor pray, nor, with the dying saint, utter those few emphatic words, "Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" he can recall no gracious promises to cheer, and not one blessed saying to support his mind, for his mechanism is deranged, and its powers prostrate -all is unhinged and like chaos in disorder and confusion, and he goes to death as the ox does to the slaughter; passing into eternity without the slightest care or preparation. Now is not this a sore evil of this judgment, that a man is bereft of his understanding at the very moment in which death is drawing nearer, and at that moment too in which he has most need of all its capacities and powers, and energies and recollections to the well ordering of the soul, ere it goes hence and enters on its final and eternal state.
required, many valuable lives have been sacrificed. In such a state of destitution, it may be said, their houses have been rendered cheerless prisons, and in a manner, while living in, they may be described as almost living out of the world-a living entombment-none dare approach that sepulchre, to tender aid and administer consolation; and there the sufferer lies stretched on the couch of death, in silent and speechless expectation of what God will do to him. And it is not the least of his miseries that he is now excluded from the assemblies of the Lord's people and is bereft of all public use of the ordinances of God, receiving indeed those private admonitions of love and consolation which the ministers of religion never deny to the sick, however loath some their disease and infectious their complaints! However others may feel on such subjects I presume not to say, but to a true Christian I know of no deprivation that can be so great, as that of being separated and banished, as it were, from the courts of the Lord's house incapacitated by corporeal and mental debility from joining in the edifying services and the hallowed prayers and enrapturing hymns and spiritual songs of the sanctuary. If we can say from the heart, "I was glad when they said, let us go into the house of the Lord,' the bereavement of that blessed privilege must be felt as a loss indeed of no ordinary kind; and I believe that it is so felt in many a chamber of sickness, and by many a christian patient in suffering.
The plague breaks off the performance of mutual offices of affection and kindness between friends and relations and neighbours. The infected person is condemned to solitudelike the lepers of old, his touch is avoided and his person is loathed. All men flee from his presence and dread his conversation; and it has not unfrequently happened that by this desertion and the want of those necessaries and comforts this situation
Another distressing effect incident to the plague is, that it usually deprives society of the choicest and most useful of its members, the strong and the healthy; those who are of the purest temperament and the best constitutions, and the most delicate complexions are among its first and earliest victims. And, that the young and lusty are those whom it seizes sooner than it does the old, the decrepid, and infirm, is generally admitted. Of all complexions, the sanguine are most susceptible of reNow the sanceiving the infection. guine are usually persons of high elastic spirits, no less remarkable for