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ashamed to shrink from temptations and trials which others around us, with no more advantages than ourselves, have felt and are feeling, have endured and are enduring, have conquered and are conquering.

That the world then, bad as it may seem, and bad as it would be if left to the consequences of its natural corruption, has yet, through grace, been never left without a certain proportion of those, who, if not sinless, were yet faithful and accepted by God, is the first consideration which arises from the perusal of this chapter of Isaiah. Another is the fact that, however this small number of righteous persons are sharers, to a certain extent, in the general calamities which the sins of the many draw down on the communities to which they belong, they are not less the beloved of the Lord, and have, from Him, their many peculiar comforts in which the world does not partake, and with which, as a stranger to their hopes and principles, the world does not intermeddle.

It is probable, indeed, (and this is the reason of my saying that the righteous are only to a certain extent sharers in the general calamity of a wicked nation) it is probable that in very many instances the calamities themselves are tempered, as they fall, by God's providence in their particular cases; that His blows when they seem most undistinguishing, nevertheless strike those the hardest whose sins cry loudest for punishment, and that the sword of the destroying angel, though it does not spare

entirely, yet passes more lightly over the houses of the humble and the penitent. Thus Jeremiah, and thus Daniel, still more, though captives like the rest of their countrymen, found favour in the eyes of their conquerors, and thus when Jerusalem, after Christ's decease, fell a sacrifice to the sword of the Romans, the Christians who were in the place were so wonderfully delivered that not a hair of their heads perished. And thus in the greatest danger of our life of every day, the angel of the Lord is said to encamp about those who fear Him, to preserve them, if not from every evil, yet from the worst of those evils to which, without His help, they are liable.

But besides this greater share of God's mercy and protection in this life, (which is then of most value when the judgements of God are visibly walking abroad), besides this private and personal ground of comfort, the righteous have a still more blessed consciousness in the season of public distress and danger, inasmuch as their example, their prayers, and the acceptable service which they render to the Almighty, is often useful to others besides themselves, and may contribute in no small degree to the preservation of their families, their friends, and their country. If there had been ten such in Sodom the city would have been spared; and in the greatest and most terrible calamity that ever befell, or ever will befall a nation, the siege and ruin of Jerusalem, already mentioned, we know from Him who cannot lie, that not only the Christians


were themselves preserved, but their unbelieving countrymen, for their sakes, were punished with a less enduring misery. Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved ; but for the elects' sake whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened those days'." Nor can a stronger inducement, in its class of motives, be offered to any man who loves his friends and country to apply himself to lead such a life as God approves of, than the hope that his earnest endeavours after holiness may give his prayers for them a value in the sight of that pure and holy Being, with whom the "fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much;" who gave a favourable answer to Daniel on the banks of Ulai, and who granted to St. Paul the lives of all them that were shipwrecked with him.

There is yet a consideration which must naturally tend to give courage and hope to the righteous in a season of general calamity, the recollection, namely, that all things which befall them are ordained by a wise and most merciful God, who knoweth what is best for His creatures, and can at any time, when He sees good, deliver them from the troubles by which they are now surrounded, or make those troubles themselves work to them for good, and to the bringing forth of an exceeding weight of future happiness and glory. Nor is this all; for as the faithful Israelite looked forwards, in

'St. Mark xiii, 20.

2 James v. 16.

the labours of his Babylonian slavery, not only to that appointed deliverance and return to their native land which God had promised to his tribes, but to the still more glorious deliverance which the Almighty should accomplish for his nation and all other nations of the world in the coming and triumph of the Redeemer, so has the faithful Christian, whose ransom from sin is already paid, and who awaits but the second coming of the Lord for his full and perfect release, so has he abundant reason to count all things as nothing which he may in this world endure, in comparison with that glorious hope which the Gospel holds out to him of " a treasure in the heavens that faileth not."

. It was this second life, indeed, to which, though with a dimmer light and a hope less sure and certain, the ancient Jew looked forwards,--as well as ourselves, when, under the calamities of his nation, he fled to the promises of God for comfort. Without this hope the very promise which was held out of deliverance from captivity and of the glories of a future Messiah, would have little power in comparison to support the afflicted under the present burthens of his lot, or make the just rejoice on his death-bed.

I do not deny that the lover of his country might be glad to learn that her slavery was not to be perpetual; that the father of a family might feel considerable comfort on finding that, though he and his

Luke xii. 33.

sons were to live and die in bondage, the chains of his grand-children would be broken; that the lover of mankind would be happy in the prospect of a Saviour to be born in after-times from the nation of the Jews and the family of David, who should undeceive those millions who had, till then, been fettered with the errours of a false religion, and the ceremonies of a foul and bloody idolatry. But there is evidently something more personal, something closer to the heart, and more immediately interesting to the feelings in that hope which Isaiah holds out as arising from the consideration of Christ's coming, and which was to support the righteous under the severest weight of national misfortune. And what could this be but the expectation that, lay down their lives in God's cause when they might, they should not lay them down for ever; that whether their bones were laid to rest in the distant land of their captivity, or consumed to dust amid the ashes of their burning temple, those bones should be clothed anew with flesh, and that dust should wake into life at the call of the promised Messiah; that fall where they might, their spirits should rest in peace, and that they should see their Redeemer for themselves, and "stand in their lot at the end of the days 1."


But, if such was their hope on the promise of God alone, a promise less declared, less explicit, less positive and clear by far than those assurances which

1 Dan. xii. 13.

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