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he went down into Egypt and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous.” Even so may the very best among us, while regarding with gratitude to God any progress which they may have made in goodness, lay the offering of these their fruits of righteousness before the throne of God, and say, “I was by nature and inclination a sinner ready to perish for ever ;-and lo! my

sins have been washed away, and I am purified by the blood of Christ, and born anew by his Spirit, and whereas I was a child of wrath, I am now the reconciled child of God, and an heir of his everlasting kingdom.” So that none need refuse to go back with me to the question in the text,—the question of one who was indeed thoroughly ignorant, but was so far happier than many amongst us, that he had been alarmed into a desire to learn something. He witnessed the earthquake, he saw the prison doors burst open, yet the Christians who were in the prison seemed to feel no fear, but had just been singing praises to their God, as if they, let happen what would, could not fail to be peaceful and happy. So he ran to them as to persons who could make him safe and happy too; and although he did not know all the danger in which he was, nor all the deliverance that was prepared for him, yet God made his little to be much, and he who thought chiefly of deliverance from the earthquake, or a relief from his fears of bodily evil, was allowed to hear of the redemption of his soul, and of salvation from every fear which might make death most terrible.

Now we know, probably, even the most ignorant of us, much more than this Philippian gaoler, when he asked trembling, “What must I do to be saved ?" We know, I say, more than he did, but we have not the earthquake before our eyes, to fill us with his earnest desire to escape from danger. And there is, and ever will be, the difficulty: it is still the same language which tempted Eve to her ruin that the Devil whispers every day to the hearts of thousands to tempt them to their ruin also. The serpent said unto the woman, “ Ye shall not surely die.” And so the Devil teaches our hearts to say to us now, “We shall not die

, soon," or, we shall not die eternally," or “ we need not think about death now." Those who have read the story of the great Plague of London in 1666, or that of Florence in 1348, or of any other seasons of great pestilence which have visited countries possessing a knowledge of the Gospel, may remember the striking effect produced upon men's minds by those sweeping calamities. It seemed as if all were awake from a dream, had turned away from acting an unreal part, and were at once suddenly sobered and made in earnest.

There was a separation broadly and strongly marked between the good and the wicked, like that which will take place in another world. Those who knew what would become of them after death, but had been playing away their lives in the usual follies of mankind, all began now to crowd the churches, to pray with most hearty sincerity, and to look upon sin in its true light, as their worst and most deadly enemy. The unbelievers, on the contrary, those who had hardened their hearts effectually by a course of godless living, they too threw aside the covering which they had merely worn for the sake of the world's opinion, and began to serve their master, the Devil, without disguise. Thus the churches were thronged in one place, whilst every sort of abominable wickedness, open blasphemy, lewdness, rioting, robbery, and murder, were practised without restraint in another. In short, the servants of God and of Satan took each their part openly, and few, if any, held a middle course between them. But as the Plague grew less fatal, this middle course



began again to be followed by far the largest portion of those who had lately quitted it. The churches were less crowded on the one side, the voice of riot and blasphemy was heard less loudly on the other; those who had been good became cold and unfruitful; those who had been scandalously wicked became decent. So both met each other half way, and mixed in that mass of general society, which cheats so many of its members by its smooth outside, and by the numbers which belong to it, -as if that could not be so evil which pretends to love good, nor so dangerous, in which so large a proportion of mankind are contentedly walking

What we see on a large scale in seasons of great public calamity, often takes place on a small scale with private individuals. The sickness or death of a friend, the loss of their own health, some wonderful escape from danger, or some bitter disappointment in worldly matters, often turn men in haste to God, by simply opening their eyes to the real state of things around them. These act like the earthquake, and drive men to cry aloud, “ What must I do to be saved ?" But will they never turn to God willingly? Will they never give him the sacrifice of a free and happy spirit not


bowed down by sickness, not made sorrowful and sober by misfortune,--but brought to God by the sunshine of his earthly blessings, and led to ask of him for some greater blessings still than those which they now enjoy? When we talk of the sorrows and cares of life, they who have tasted little of either will think that what they hear does not concern them. When we talk of the uncertainty of death, we but tempt what I may call the gambling spirit in human nature, which delights in running a hazard, even though the chances be against them. They know that death sometimes visits the young, but they know also that such visitations are rendered more striking because they are somewhat uncommon, and they think it not unreasonable to calculate that they themselves shall not be subject to them. I would rather

say, “ You have tasted as yet only the sweetness of the world; and although you will certainly taste of its bitterness too, yet very likely the sweet may still be more, perhaps much more, than the bitter. You are young, and although death is ever uncertain, yet I grant that in the common course of nature many years will probably pass before it visits you. But will you wait to be driven to the altar of God? Will you not turn to him in your season

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