« السابقةمتابعة »
holiness consists in mere abstinence, and in to our own? What do we see around us?
these Galileans were sinners above all the Gali-
sinners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem? I
tell you, nay: but except ye repent, ye shall
this view, we shall learn to avert the judg. THE CALAMITIES OF EUROPE. ments of God from falling on our own heads,
by the way in which we shall consider his LUKE xiii. 1-5.
visitations on others. God grant it. Amen. There were present at that season some that told and of the vengeance he inflicted on those
What was the occasion of Pilate's cruelty, him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had Galileans? This is a question difficult to demingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus an- termine. The most enlightened commentators swering, said unto them, suppose ye that these
assure us, Galileans, were sinners above all the Galileans, in Jewish, or in Roman history. The wary
that they find no traces of it either because they suffered such things? I tell you, Josephus, according to his custom on those nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all like subjects, is silent here; and, probably, on the wise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think mention of the murder of the infants commit
same principle which induced him to make no ye that they were sinners above all that dwelt in ted by the cruel Herod. Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but except ye re
Pilate you know in general. He was one pent ye shall all likewise perish.
of those men whom God, in the profound se“I have cut off the nations, I have made crets of his providence, suffers to attain the their towers desolate, I have sapped the foun- most distinguished rank to execute his designs, dation of their cities; I said, surely thou shalt when they have no view but the gratification receive instruction, so that thy dwelling shall of their own passions. He was a man, in not be cut off,” Zeph. iii. 6, 7. This instruc- whom much cruelty, joined to extreme avative caution God once published by the minis- rice, rendered proper to be a rod in God's try of Zephaniah. And did it regard that age hand; and who, following the passions which alone, or was it a prophecy for future times actuated his mind, sometimes persecuting the Undoubtedly, my brethren, it regarded the Jews to please the heathens, and sometimes Jews in the prophet's time. They saw every the Christians to please the Jews, sacrificed where around them exterminated nations, for the Finisher of our faith, and thus after troutresses in ruins, villages deserted, and cities bling the synagogue, he became the tyrant sapped to the foundation. The judgments of of both the churches. God had fallen, not only on the idolatrous na- Perhaps the vengeance he executed on the tions, but the ten tribes had been overwhelm- Galileans was not wholly without a cause. ed. The Jews, instead of receiving instruction, Here is whạt some have conjectured upon this followed the crimes of those whom God had narrative. Gaulon* was a town of Galilee; cut off, and involved themselves in the same here a certain Judas was born, who on that calamities.
account was surnamed the Gaulonite, of whom And if these words were adapted to that age, how strikingly, alas! are they applicable
* Joseph. Antiq. lib. 18. c. I. Vol. 11.---18
we have an account in the fifth chapter of the thought and reflection. 2. They regard them book of the Acts.* This man was naturally with a spirit of blindness; but Jesus Christ inclined to sedition. He communicated the would excite in them a spirit of instruction and spirit of revolt to his family, from his family knowledge. 3. They regard them with a spirit to the city, from the city to the province, and of rigour to others, and preference of themfrom the province to all Judea. He had the selves; but Jesus Christ would excite in them art of catching the Jews by their passions; I a compassionate and humble temper. 4. They would say, by their love of liberty. He excit- regard with an obdurate spirit; but Jesus Christ ed them to assert their rights, to maintain would excite in them a spirit of reformation their privileges, to throw off the yoke the Ro- and repentance. These are terms to which mans wished to impose, and to withhold the we must attach distinct ideas, and salutary intribute. He succeeded in his designs; the Jews structions. If we shall sometimes recede from revered him as a patriot. But to remedy an the words of Jesus Christ, it shall be to apinconsiderable evil, he involved them in a thou- proximate ourselves more to the situation in sand disgraces. It has been conjectured that which Providence has now placed us. And those whose blood was mingled with their if we shall sometimes recede from the circumsacrifices, were some of the seditious who had stances in which Providence has now placed come to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover, us, it shall be to approach the nearer to the and of whom Pilate wished to make an exam- views of Jesus Christ. ple to intimidate others.
The first characteristic of the erroneous disWhat we said of Pilate's cruelty, suggested position with which we regard the judgments by the subject, is wholly uncertain; we say the God inflicts on other men, is stupor and inatsame of the tragic accident immediately sub- tention. I do not absolutely affirın, that people joined in our text; I would say, the tower of are not at all affected by the strokes of ProviSiloam, which crushed eighteen people under dence. The apathy of the human mind cannot its ruins. We know in general, that there extend quite so far. How was it that this unwas a fountain in Jerusalem called Siloam, heard-of cruelty could scarce impress the mind mentioned in the ninth chapter of St. John, of those who were present? Here are men who and in the eighth chapter of Isaiah. We know came up to Jerusalem, who came to celebrate that this fountain was at the foot of mount the feast with joy, who designed to offer their Zion, as many historians have asserted. We victims to God; but behold, they themselves know that it had five porches, as the gospel became the victims of a tyrant's fury, who expressly affirms. We know several particu- mixed their blood with that of the beasts they lars of this fountain, that it was completely had just offered! Here are eighteen men emdried up before the arrival of the emperor ployed in raising a tower, or perhaps accident Titus; and that it flowed not again till the ally standing near it; and behold, they are coinmencement of the siege of Jerusalem: so we crushed to pieces by its fall! Just so, wars, are assured by Josephus. We know likewise, pestilence, and famine, when we are not imthat the empress Helena embellished it with mediately, or but lightly involved in the cavarious works, described by Nicephorus.f. We lamity, make indeed a slight, though very know likewise various superstitions to which it superficial, impression on the mind. We find, has given birth; in particular, what is said by at most, in these events, but a temporary subGeotfroy de Viterbus, that there was near it ject of conversation; we recite them with the another fountain called the Holy Virgin, be- news of the day, “There were present at that cause, they say, this blessed woman drew wa- season, some who told bim of the Galileans;" ter from it to wash the linen of Jesus Christ, but we extend our inquiries no farther, and and of her family. We are told also that the never endeavour to trace the designs of ProviTurks have so great a veneration for it as to dence. There are men who feel no interest wash their children in the same water, and to but in what immediately affects themselves, perform around it various rituals of supersti- provided their property sustain no loss by the tion. But what this tower was, and what the calamity of others; provided their happiness flow cause of its fall was, we cannot discover, nor in its usual course; provided their pleasures are is it a matter of any importance.
not interrupted, though the greatest calamities Let us make no more vain efforts to illustrate be abroad in the earth, and though God inflict a subject, which would be of little advantage, before our eyes the severest strokes, to them, though we could place it in the fullest lustre. it is of no moment. Hence the first mark of Let us turn the whole of our attention to what the misguided disposition with which men reis of real utility. We have proposed, conform- gard the judgments of the Lord on others, is ably to the text, to inquire, first, into the er- stupor and inattention. roneous light in which men view the judy- But how despicable is this disposition! Does ments God inflicts on their own species; and, one live solely for one's self? Are men capasecondly, the real light in which they ought to ble of being employed about nothing but their
1 be considered. Here is in substance the sub-y own interests. 'Are they unable to turn their ject of our discourse. Mankind regard the views to the various bearings under which the judgments God inflicts on their own species, judgments of God may be considered! Every 1. With a spirit of indifference; but Jesus Christ ihing claims attention in these messengers of would thereby excite in them a disposition of the divine vengeance. The philosopher finds
here a subject of the deepest speculation. What * Theudas, v. 30.
are those impenetrable springs, moved of God, Wars of the Jews, lib. v. cap. 26.
which shake the fabric of the world, and sud Eccles. Hist. lib. viii. cap. 20. Voiez Jesuit Eusebius Nieremberg de Lerrapromis, denly convulse the face of society: 'Is it the
earth, wearied of her primitive fertility, which
occasions barrenness and famine? Or, is it | They treat those as weak-headed, whom the some new malediction, supernaturally denounc- visitations of Heaven prompt to self-examinaed by him who renders nature fruitful in her tion, who recognise the hand of God, and who ordinary course? Is it the exhalations from endeavour to penetrate his designs in the afflicthe earth which empoison the air; or, are tions of mankind. More occupied with Pilate there some pernicious qualities formed in the than with him whose counsel bas determined air which empoison the earth? By what secret the conduct of Pilate; more occupied with poliof nature, or phenomenon of the Creator, does tics, and more attentive to nature, than to the the contagion pass with the velocity of light- God of nature, they refer all to second causes, ning from one clime to another, bearing on the they regard nature and politics as the universal wings of the wind the infectious breath of one divinities, and the arbitrators of all events. people to another? The statesman admires This is what we call a spirit of blindness. And here the catastrophes of states, and the vicissi- as nothing can be more opposite to the design tudes of society. He admires how the lot of of this text, and the object of this discourse, war in an instant raiæs him who was low, and we ought to attack it with all our power, and abases him who was high. He sees troops demonstrate another truth supposed by Jesus trained with labour, levied with difficulty, and Christ in the text, not only that God is the formed with fatigue; he sees them destroyed by author of all calamities, but that in sending a battle in an hour; and what is more awful still, them, he correctly determines their end. This he sees them wasted by disease without being shall appear by a few plain propositions. able to sell their lives, or to dip their hands in Proposition first. Either nature is nothing, or the enemies' blood. The dying man sees, in it is the assemblage of the beings God has crethe calamities of others, the image of his own ated; either the effects of nature are nothing, danger. He sees death armed at all points, or they are the products and effects of the laws "and him that hath the power of death"* mov- by which God has arranged, and by which he ing at his command the winds, the waves, the governs beings; consequently, whatever we call tempests, the pestilence, the famine and war. natural effects, and the result of second causes, The Christian here extending his views, sees are the work of God, and the effects of bis eshow terrible it is “to fall into the hands of the tablished laws. This proposition is indisputaliving God.”+ He adores that Providence ble. One must be an Atheist, or an Epicurean, which directs all events, and without whose to revoke it in doubt. For instance, when you permission a hair cannot fall from the head: say that an earthquake is a natural effect, and he sees in these calamities messengers of the that it proceeds from a second cause: do you God " who makes flarnes of fire his angels, and know that there are under our feet subterrawinds his ministers.”! He“ hears the rod, and nean caverns, that those caverns are filled with who hath appointed it." Fearing to receive combustible matter, that those substances igthe same visitations, le “prepares to meet his nite by friction,* expand, and overturn whatGod."'ll He "enters his closet, and hides ever obstructs their passage? Here is a natural fuimself
' till the indignation be overpast." He effect; here is a second cause. But I ask; who saves himself" before the decree bring forth." has created this earth? Who has formed those He cries as Israel once cried, “Wherewith creatures susceptible of ignition? Who has esshall I come before the Lord, and bow myself tablished the laws of expansive force? You before the high God?"** Such are the variety must here confess, that either God, or chance of reflections and of emotions which the calami- is the author. If you say chance, atheism is ties of Providence excites in an enlightened then on the throne; Epicurus triumphs; the mind. Truths which we proceed to develop, fortuitous concourse of atoms is established. and which we enumerate here solely to demon- If you say God, our proposition is proved, and strate the stupidity of this first disposition, and sufficiently so; for those that attack us here, are to oppose it by a spirit of recollection and seri- not Atheists and Epicureans; hence, in refuting ousness implied in our Saviour's answer, and them, it is quite sufficient to prove, that their which he was wishful to excite in us.
principle tends to the Epicurean and the athe2. We have marked, in the second place, a istical system. spirit of blindness, and our wish to oppose it by Proposition second. God, in forming his an enlightened and well-informed disposition. various works, and in the arrangement of his When we speak of those who have a spirit of laws, knew every possible effect which could blindness, we do not mean men of contracted result from them. If you do not admit this minds, who having received it from nature, principle, you have no notion of the perfect are incapable of reflection; men who think Being; an infinity of events might happen in merely to adopt phantoms, and who talk merely the world independent of his pleasure; he would to maintain absurdities. We attack those wit- daily learn; he would grow wiser with age; and lings who pique themselves on a superiority,. become learned by experience! These are prinwho, under a pretence of emancipating the mind ciples which destroy themselves, and combine from error and prejudice, and of rising above by their contradiction to establish our second the vulgar, so immerse themselves in error and proposition, that God, in creating his works, prejudice, as to sink below the vulgar. Persons and in prescribing the laws of motion, was apwho have knowledge indeed; but "professing prised of every possible effect. themselves to be wise, they became fools;"|| and are so much the more blind, to speak as
* This was the received opinion in our author's time;
but modern observations attest. that great masses of sulthe Scripture, “because they say, we see.”#1 phureous coals thrown on heaps kindie spontaneously by
The accession of air and rain. So on the falling of the * Heb. ii. 14. + Heb. 1. 31. | Heb. i. 7. alumn shell of Boulby cliffs, the rain and air caused the Mic. vi. 9. || Amos iv. 12.
! Zeph. ii. mass to ignite. Sce Sulcliffe's Geological Essays: and ** Mic. vi. 6. tt Rom. i. 22 # John ix. 41. | Hist. of Whitby
Proposition third. God, foreseeing all those 3. Men regard with a spirit of severity and effects, has approved of them, and determined of preference, the judgments which God ineach to an appropriate end. It is assortable to ficis on others; but Jesus Christ was wishful to the nature of a wise Being to do nothing but excite in them a disposition of tenderness and what is consonant to wisdom, nothing but what humiliation; he apprises them, that the most is connected with some design; and to make afilicted are not always the most guilty. So is this the distinguishing characteristic of the the import of these expressions, “ Suppose ye smallest, as well as of the greatest works. The that these Galileans were sinners above all the wisest of men are unable to follow this law, Galileans? Suppose ye that those eighteen on because circumscribed in knowledge, their at- whom the lower of Siloam fell, and killed, tention is confined to a narrow sphere of ob- were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerujects. If a prince, wishful to make his sub- salem? I tell you, nay." jects happy, should endeavour to enter into all The Jews had much need of this caution. the minutiæ of his kingdom, he could not at- Many of them regarded all the calamities of tend to the main design; and his measures life, as the punishment of some sin committed would tend to retard his purpose. But God, by the afflicted. The mortifying comforts of whose mind is infinite, who comprises in the Job's friends, and all the rash judgments they immense circle of his knowledge an infinity of formed of his case, were founded upon this ideas without confusion, is directed by bis wis- principle: you find likewise some of our Sadom to propose the best design in all his works. viour's disciples, on seeing a man born blind, Consequently the works of nature which he asking this question: “Lord, who did sin, this has created, and the effects of nature which man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” he has foreseen, all enter into his eternal coun- John ix. 2. How could they conceive that a sels, and receive their destination. Hence, to man, blind from his birth, could have commitrefer events to second causes, not recognising ted a crime to superinduce the calamity? This the designated visitations of Providence by the corresponds with our assertion: they were perplague, by war, and famine; and under a pre- suaded that all calamities were the result of sumption, that these proceed from the general some crime; and even in this life, that the laws of nature, not perceiving the Author and most calamitous were the most culpable; and Lord of nature, is to have a spirit of blindness. they even preferred the supposition of sins
Moreover, all these arguments, suggested committed in a pre-existent state, to the ideas by sound reason, are established in the clearest of visitations not preceded by crime. They and most indisputable manner in the Scrip- admitted, for the most part, the doctrine of tures, to which all wise men should have re- metempsychosis, and supposed the punishments course to direct their judgment. Does Joseph sustained in one body, were the result of sins arrive in Egypt, after being sold by his bre-coinmitted in other bodies. This sentiment thren? It was God that sent him thither, ac- the Jews of Alexandria had communicated to cording to his own testiinony, Gen. xlv. 5. their brethren in Judea: but we suppress, on “Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, this head, a long detail of proofs from Philo, that ye sold me hither, for God did send me Josephus, and others.* They had also another before you to preserve life.” Do Kings arrange notion, that children might have criminal their counsels: " Their heart is in the hands thoughts while slumbering in the womb. It is of God: he turneth them as the rivers of wa- probable that those who, in the text, reported ter," Prov. xxi. l. Does Assyria afflict Israel? to Jesus Christ the unhappy end of the Gali"He is the rod of God's anger, Isa. X. 5. leans, were initiated into this opinion. This is Do Herod and Pilate persecute Jesus Christ the spirit of severity and of preference by They do that which God had previously" de- which we regard the calamities of others. termined in counsel,” Acts iv. 27. Does a This is what the Lord attacks: “Suppose ye hair fall from our head? It is not without the that those eighteen on whom the tower in Sipermission of God, Luke xii. 7. If you re- loam fell, were sinners above all that dwelt in quire particular proof that God has designs in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but except ye rechastisements, and not only with regard to the pent ye shall all likewise perish.” chastised but to those also in whose presence This is the most afflicted man in all the they are chastised, you have but to remember earth; therefore he is more wicked than anothe words at the opening of this discourse; “Ither who enjoys a thousand comforts. What have cut off all nations, I have made their low- a pitiful argument! ers desolate, and said, Surely thou shalt receive To reason in this way is to "limit the Holy instruction;"' you have but to recollect the One of Israel,” Ps. lxxviii. 41; and not to rewords of Ezekiel, “ As I live, saith the Lord, cognise the diversity of designs an infinite Insurely because thou hast defiled my sanctuary telligence may propose in the visitations of with thy detestable things, a third part of you mankind. Sometimes he is wishful to prove shall die with the pestilence, and another part 'thein: “Now I know that thou lovest me, of you shall fall by the sword, and a third part seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine shall be scattered: and thou shalt be a reproach, only son,” Gen. xxii. 12. Sometimes he deand a taunt, and an instruction,” Ezek. v. signs to be glorified by their deliverance. Thus 11-15. Pay attention to this word, “an in- the opening of the eyes of the man born blind struction." My brethren, God has therefore was designated, to make manifest "the works designs, when he afilicts other men before our of God;" and the sickness of Lazarus was “to eyes; and designs in regard to us; he proposes glorify the Son of God.” Sometimes he proour instruction. Hence his visitations must be
* Philo on the Giants; and on Dreams; Joseph. Wars regarded with an enlightened mind.
of the Jews, book ii.
mity of sin.
poses to make their faith conspicuous; this was ized his assertions; and would to God that ours,
compared with the multitude of victims which
are now strewed over Europe? Do you sup-
IV. Lastly: mankind regard the judgments
give others an idea of the punishment which
. Yes, afflicted, we should rather say, this man hav- literally did the Jewish nation perish as the ing no affliction, is, in fact, a greater sinner Galileans, whose blood Pilate mingled with than the other who is afflicted.
their sacrifices, and as the others on whom the In general, there are few wicked men to tower of Siloam fell. whom the best of saints, in a comparative view, Read what happened under Archelaus, on have the right of preference. In the life of the day of the passover. The people were asa criminal, you know at most but a certain sembled from all parts, and thought of nothing number of his crimes; but you see an infinite but of offering their sacrifices. Archelaus surnumber in your own. Comparing yourselves rounded Jerusalem, placed his cavalry without with an assassin about to be broken on the the city, caused his infantry to enter, and to wheel, you would no doubt find a preference | defile the temple with the blood of three thouin this point. But extend your thoughts; re- | sand persons. view the history of your life; investigate your Read the sanguinary conduct of those cruel heart; examine those vain thoughts, those irre- assassins, who in open day, and during their gular desires, those secret practices, of which most solemn festival in particular, caused the God alone is witness; and then judge of vice effects of their fury to be felt, and mingled huand virtue, not by the notions that men form man gore with that of the animals slain in the of them, but by the portrait exhibited in God's temple. law; consider that anger, envy, pride and Read the furious battle fought by the zealcalumny, carried to a certain degree, are more ots in the same temple, where without fear of odious in the eyes of God, than those noto- defiling the sanctity of religion, to use the exrious crimes punished by human justice; and pression of the Jewish historian, “they defiled on investigating the life of a criminal, you will the sacred place with their impure blood.”| be obliged to confess that there is nothing Read the pathetic description of the same more revolting than what is found in your own. historian concerning the factions who held
Besides, a good man is so impressed with his their sittings in the temple. “Their revenge," own faults, that the sentiment extenuates in he says, "extended to the altar; they massahis estimation the defects of others. This was cred the priests with those that offered sacrithe sentiment of St. Paul: “I am the chief of fices. Men who came from the extremities of sinners; but I obtained mercy.” This was his the earth to worship God in his holy place, fell injunction; “In lowliness of mind, let each down slain with their victims, and sprinkled esteem another better than himself,” Phil. ii. 5; their blood on the altar, revered, not only by 1 Tim. i. 13. But is this avowal founded on the Greeks, but by the most barbarous nations. fact? Is the maxim practicable? It is, my The blood was seen to flow as rivers; and the brethren, in the sense we have just laid down. But the Jews, whom our Saviour addressed, had no need of those solutions: their lives real
*Joseph. Antiq. lib. xvii. cap. 11. Joseph. Wars of the Jews, book iv. chap. 14.