Luke 13:1
At that time, some of those present told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
Sermons
A Direct ApplicationA. F. Barfield.Luke 13:1-5
A Faithful WarningLuke 13:1-5
Accidents, not PunishmentsC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 13:1-5
All Sin Must be Repented OfF. F. Trench.Luke 13:1-5
An Accident Wrongly DescribedJ. Jackson Wray.Luke 13:1-5
Errors Respecting the Providence of GodT. Smith, D. D.Luke 13:1-5
Judgments and RepentanceH. Melvill, B. D.Luke 13:1-5
LessonsJames Foote, M. A.Luke 13:1-5
Lessons from AccidentsJ. Williams.Luke 13:1-5
Love in WarningBishop Ryle.Luke 13:1-5
Nature and Necessity of RepentanceN. W. Taylor, D. D.Luke 13:1-5
Of RepentanceLuke 13:1-5
RepentanceT. Croskery, D. D.Luke 13:1-5
RepentanceN. Rogers.Luke 13:1-5
Scrutable ProvidencesJ. Jackson Wray.Luke 13:1-5
Sudden and Signal Calamity ImprovedD. Wilson, M. A.Luke 13:1-5
Take Heed to ThyselfJ. A. Alexander, D. D.Luke 13:1-5
Teachings from TragediesA. Rowland, LL. B.Luke 13:1-5
Terror not Necessary to RepentanceH. W. Beecher.Luke 13:1-5
The Bad and Good Use of God's Signal Judgments Upon OthersArchbishop Tillotson.Luke 13:1-5
The Case of Passing Judgment Concerning Calamities ExaminedD. Waterland, D. D.Luke 13:1-5
The Judgments of GodC. Kingsley, M. A.Luke 13:1-5
The Massacre of the GalileansM. F. Sadler.Luke 13:1-5
The Naturalness of God's JudgmentsS. A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 13:1-5
The Necessity of RepentanceLuke 13:1-5
The Significance of SufferingW. Clarkson Luke 13:1-5
Thorpe's RepentanceLuke 13:1-5
True RepentanceVan Doren.Luke 13:1-5
What Repentance Cannot DoH. W. Beecher.Luke 13:1-5
The Grace and Progress of God's KingdomR.M. Edgar Luke 13:1-21
What does it mean, that all men suffer? and what is signified by the great calamities which some men endure? The Jews of our Lord's time were drawing inferences which were common and natural enough; but they were not the safest nor the wisest that might have been drawn. In the light of the Master's teaching, we conclude -

I. THAT SUFFERING IS ALWAYS SIGNIFICANT OF SIN. Whenever we see any kind of suffering, whether it be ordinary sickness and pain, or whether it be of such an extraordinary character as that referred to here (vers. 1-4), we safely conclude that there has been sin. And this for two reasons.

1. That all sin tends toward suffering; it has the seeds of weakness, of decline, of dissolution, in it. Give time enough, and sin is certain, "when it is finished, to bring forth death." It carries an appropriate penalty in its own nature, and, except there be some merciful and mighty interposition to prevent it, the consequences will be felt in due time.

2. That it is certain there would have been no suffering had there been no sin. A good and holy man may be experiencing the results of other men's iniquity, and his troubles not be directly traceable to any wrong or even any imprudence in himself. Yet were he not a sinful man, to whom some penalty for some guilt is due, he would not have been allowed to be the victim of the wrong-doing of others. We bear the burden of one another's penalty; and there is no injustice in this, because, though we all suffer on account of other men's actions, we suffer no more than is due to our own delinquency. The fact that a man is suffering some evil thing is therefore a proof that, whether or not he brought this particular trial on himself, he has offended, he has broken Divine law, he has come under righteous condemnation.

II. THAT GREAT CALAMITY IS SUGGESTIVE OF GREAT GUILT. There are two considerations which suggest this conclusion.

1. One is a logical inference. We argue that if sinners suffer on account of their guilt, the greater sinners will be the greater sufferers.

2. The other is the result of observation. We do often see that men who have been guilty of flagitious crimes are compelled to endure signal sorrows; the tempest of human indignation bursts upon them, or the fires of a terrible remorse consume them, or the retribution of a righteous Providence overtakes and overwhelms them.

III. THAT WE ARE BOUND TO TAKE CARE LEST WE DO OUR NEIGHBOUR WRONG in this conclusion of ours.

1. For the heinousness of individual guilt and the measurable magnitude of present punishment do not always correspond with one another. We do not always know how much men are suffering; they may be experiencing inward miseries we know not of; and it is most likely that they are undergoing inward and spiritual deterioration which we cannot estimate - a consequence of sin which is immeasurably more pitiful than any loss of property or of health.

2. And the calamities that have overtaken a man may be due to the fault of others, and they may be disciplinary rather than punitive in their bearing upon him. They may rather indicate that God is cleansing his heart and preparing his spirit for higher work, than that God is visiting him with penalty for past iniquity. We must therefore be slow to act on the principle on which the Jews based the conclusion of the text. There is one thing which it is always right to do. We may be sure -

IV. THAT THE WISE THING IS TO MAKE HONEST INQUIRY ABOUT OURSELVES. What about our own sin? It is certain that we have sinned. Biblical statements, our own consciences, the testimony of our neighbours, - all affirm this. We have sinned against the Lord, and deserve his condemnation and retribution. Is it certain that we have repented? Have we turned away from the attitude and the actions of selfishness, of ungodliness, of insubmissiveness, of disobedience? And are we resting and rejoicing in the mercy of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord? If not, we shall perish; for impenitence means death. - C.







The Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled.
We shall miss the very point of Christ's teaching if we suppose that he meant to lessen our sense of the inseparable connection between sin and punishment. What, then, did He mean? He meant this: That every personal visitation, whether by violence or by accident, is not to be regarded as a retribution for a personal sin; that we are too short-sighted to judge, and that we are too sin-stricken ourselves to overlook, in our condemnation of others, our own need of repentance. The main purpose of such startling events is to arouse individuals and society at large to a recognition and to a repentance of their own sins. He appears to me to have opposed on the one hand the levity of those who ignore the connection between natural and moral evil: and, on the other hand, He rebuked the narrowness of those who connected individual sorrows befalling others with individual sins. In all ages and in all lands this hydro-headed fallacy has asserted its power. The ordeal in mediaeval times was based on it (the noble having the ordeal of fire and the bondman the ordeal of water), and the "wage of battle" has not yet lost its hold on the nations, and even Christians regard war as a decisive appeal to the Lord of hosts, to show on which side right lies, though history abundantly shows that often might has won and right has lost. This is the principle on which people have constantly based their judgments, and do so still, though in different form. If you clamber the hills at the back of Penmaenmaur you will see the stones which are said by the people to be quiet players, who were petrified by the judgment of God for playing the game on Sunday. You smile at that; but there are multitudes now who, hearing of a disaster on the railway, will call it a judgment if it happens on Sunday, an accident if it happens on Monday.

I. THINK OF THE FOLLY OF THIS SHORT-SIGHTED JUDGMENT.

1. It presupposes that this is the world of punishment, whereas Scripture and experience alike testify that it is the world of probation.

2. The folly of these hasty judgments of ours also appears from their constant contradiction by unmistakable facts. It was of the wicked, not of the righteous, that the Psalmist said: "They are not plagued as other men." Indeed, we should lose faith in a righteous God altogether if this world were the only stage on which His purposes are worked out. There is a good story told of John Milton which will illustrate this point, though-I do not vouch for its accuracy. It is said that when the great poet was living in Bunhill-fields, forsaken and blind, old and poor, one of the despicable sons of Charles I. paid him a visit, and said: "Do you not see, Mr. Milton, that your blindness is a judgment of God for the part you took against my father, King Charles." "Nay," said the poet of the Commonwealth, "If I have lost my sight through God's judgment, what can you say of your father, who lost his head?" Well, that is a fair example of the confusions and contradictions which arise from endeavours to interpret, by our short-sighted notions, the far-reaching purposes of God.

3. And what will be the result if men are taught to look for Divine decisions now, before the appointed revelation of the righteous judgment of God? Why this. that wicked men will be emboldened in wickedness so long as they seem to escape all rebuke and disaster — and they often do. They are profligate, but not punished: prayerless, yet crowned with blessings; dishonest, yet succeed all the better in their ventures; cruel and hard, yet make money faster because they are so; and soon they will call darkness light and light darkness; and will go on recklessly, amid the sunshine of prosperity, to a hell they do not believe in! Well might our Lord rebuke the hasty judgments of men on account of their folly.

II. But, apart from its folly, THERE IS SIN IN THIS HABIT TOO OFTEN, IF NOT ALWAYS.

1. It leads even religious people to a kind of untruthfulness which the King of truth always and everywhere condemns. They cannot help seeing the contradictions and anomalies I have alluded to, and they naturally shut their eyes to those which do not fit in with their theory. If, for example, helpless people are crushed in a theatre, it is a "judgment," but if in a church, it is an "accident." If an evil happens to themselves, it is a "trial"; but if it comes to another, it is a "warning." But all this is untrue and unreal, and, therefore, it is abhorrent to our Lord. Yes, and it is detected by a sharp-eyed world, which adduces it as a proof of the unreality and unfairness of religious people, and so our testimony for the King of truth is weakened. Jesus meant what He said when He uttered those memorable words: "He that is of the truth heareth My words."

2. Besides, there is often harshness in those judgments of ours on other people. We think and say that they are sinners above all others because they suffer such things. This hard condemnation of others was one of the chief sins of the Pharisees, and it called forth some of the sternest words our Lord ever uttered.

3. I am not sure but what the thought of other people's sins is comforting and pleasant to us; presenting a contrast by which we may throw up into relief our own virtues. And such self-complacency was a third sin Jesus saw in His hearers.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

I. OCCURRING INCIDENTS SHOULD TEACH US SPIRITUAL TRUTHS (vers. 1, 4).

II. IT IS THE TENDENCY OF THE HUMAN MIND TO JUDGE RASHLY (ver. 2).

III. THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTIANITY RESTRAINS THE RASHNESS OF HUMAN JUDGMENT. "I tell you, Nay."

IV. WE SHOULD AT ALL TIMES LOOK AT HOME. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

(A. F. Barfield.)

I. We are to speak on the common, but erroneous idea, that THE SINFULNESS OF AN INDIVIDUAL MAY BE CONCLUDED FROM THE JUDGMENTS BY WHICH HE IS OVERTAKES. We can affirm it to be an axiom received by the men of every generation, that punishment and sin are so near relatives, that to perform the one is to incur the other. And the axiom is a true axiom, though in certain instances it may be wrongly applied. It is a truth, a truth to which hereafter the unrolled history of the universe shall bear witness, that human guilt provokes God's wrath; and that the greater a man's offences the sterner shall be the penalties with which he is visited. And we think it altogether a surprising thing that this truth should have retained its hold on the human mind; so that in the worst scenes of moral and intellectual degeneracy it hath never been completely cashiered. We think it a mighty testimony to the character of God as the 'hater and avenger of sin that even the savage, removed far away from all the advantages of Revelation, is unable to get rid of the conviction that guilt is the parent to wretchedness, and that, let him but see a fellow-man crushed by an accumulation of disaster, and he will instantly show forth this conviction by pointing to him so branded with flagrant iniquities. But whilst the common mode of arguing thus leads to the establishment of certain truths, it is in itself an erroneous mode. This is the next thing which we go on to observe. The Jews concluded that the Galileans must have been peculiarly sinful, since God had allowed them to be butchered by the Romans. They showed, therefore, that they believed in an awful connection between sinfulness and suffering, and so far they were witnesses to one of the fundamental truths of Revelation. But, nevertheless, we gather unquestionably from Christ's address, that it did not follow that because these Galileans were massacred they were sinners above all the Galileans. Now, if we would attend to the course and order of God's judgments, we should presently see, that although wherever there is suffering there must have been sin, still nothing can be more faulty than the supposition that he who suffers most must have sinned most. There is no proportion whatsoever kept up in God's dealings with His creatures between men's allotments in this life, and their actions. On the contrary, the very same conduct which is allowed to prosper in one case entails a long line of calamities in another.

II. Now this brings us to our second topic of discourse. We have shown you the erroneousness of the inference drawn by the Jews; AND WE DO ON TO THE REPROOF WHICH THEY MET WITH FROM THE REDEEMER. We bid you, first of all, observe that Jesus, in no degree, denies the actual sinfulness of the murdered Galileans. He only sets himself against the idea which had been formed of their relative sinfulness. What they had suffered was, undoubtedly, a consequence of sin in the general — for if there were no sin, there could be no suffering. But the calamity which overtook them was no more necessarily the produce of particular sin, than was the blindness of the man concerning whom the disciples asked, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Sinful, then, the Galileans were, and, because sinful, they also suffered. But of their sinfulness we all partake, and, what then is to exempt us from partaking of their suffering? We are taught by our text that if we repent we shall be delivered; if we repent not, we must perish. And I just wish to set before you, with all plainness and simplicity, THE EXACT PLACE WHICH REPENTANCE OCCUPIES IN THE BUSINESS OF OUR RECONCILIATION TO GOD. There has been much mistake abroad on this matter, and both repentance and faith have been wrongly exhibited by a diseased theology. A man is not pardoned because he is sorry for his sins. A man is not saved because he believes upon Christ. If you once say that it is because we do this or that, that we are accepted of God, you make the acceptance a thing of works, and not one of grace. If we say to an individual, Repent and believe and thou shalt be saved, the saying is a true saying, and has the whole of God's Word on its side. But if we say, Repent, and because penitent, thou shalt be forgiven, we represent repentance as the procuring cause of forgiveness, and thus do fatal violence to every line of the gospel. Repentance is a condition, and faith is a condition, but neither the one or the other is anything more than a condition. In itself there is no virtue in repentance — in itself there is no virtue in faith. That repentance must precede pardon is clear from every line of the scheme of salvation; but that repentance must precede coming to Christ is a notion fraught with the total upset of this scheme. We deny not that a legal repentance, as it may be termed, is often beforehand with our turning to the Mediator; but an evangelical repentance is not to be gotten except from it. It is a change of heart — it is a renewal of spirit — it is the being translated from darkness to light, the being turned-from dead works to serve the living and true God. And if all this mighty renovation is to pass upon man, ere it can be said of him that he has truly repented, then he must have betaken himself to the Redeemer's fulness in order to obtain the very elements of repentance, and this is distinctly opposed to his possessing those elements as qualifications for his drawing from that fulness. Of all things, let us avoid the throwing up ramparts between the sinner and the Saviour. I am bold to say that, if the gospel be conditional, the only condition is a look. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

#NAME?

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)

I. First, LET US TAKE HEED THAT WE DO NOT DRAW THE RASH AND HASTY CONCLUSION FROM TERRIBLE ACCIDENTS, THAT THOSE WHO SUFFER BY THEM SUFFER ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR SINS. NOW, mark, I would not deny but what there have sometimes been judgments of God upon particular persons for sin; sometimes, and I think but exceedingly rarely, such things have occurred. Some of us have heard in our own experience instances of men who have blasphemed God and defied Him to destroy them, who have suddenly fallen dead; and in such cases, the punishment has so quickly followed the blasphemy that one could not help perceiving the hand of God in it. The man had wantonly asked for the judgment of God, his prayer was heard, and the judgment came. And, beyond a doubt, there are what may be called natural judgments. You see a man ragged, poor, houseless; he has been profligate, he has been a drunkard, he has lost his character, and it is but the just judgment of God upon him that he should be starving, and that he should be an outcast among men. You see in the hospitals loathsome specimens of men and women foully diseased; God forbid that we should deny that in such a case — the punishment being the natural result of the sin — there is a judgment of God upon licentiousness and ungodly lusts. And the like may be said in many instances where there is so clear a link between the sin and the punishment that the blindest men may discern that God hath made Misery the child of Sin. But in cases of accident, such as that to which I refer, and in cases of sudden and instant death, again, I say, I enter my earnest protest against the foolish and ridiculous idea that those who thus perish are sinners above all the sinners who survive unharmed. Let me just try to reason this matter out with Christian people; for there are some unenlightened Christian people who will feel horrified by what I have said. To all those who hastily look upon every calamity as a judgment I would speak in the earnest hope of setting them right.

1. Let me begin, then, by saying, do not you see that what you say is not true? and that is the best of reasons why you should not say it. Does not your own experience and observation teach you that one event happeneth both to the righteous and to the wicked? It is true, the wicked man sometimes falls dead in the street; but has not the minister fallen dead in the pulpit?

2. The idea that whenever an accident occurs we are to look upon it as a judgment from God would make the providence of God to be, instead of a great deep, a very shallow pool. Why, any child can understand the providence of God, if it be true that when there is a railway accident it is because people travel on a Sunday. I take any little child from the smallest infant-class form in the Sunday-school, and he will say, "Yes, I see that." But then, if such a thing be providence, if it be a providence that can be understood, manifestly it is not the Scriptural idea of providence, for in the Scripture we are always taught that God's providence is "a great deep"; and even Ezekiel, who had the wing of the cherubim and could fly aloft, when he saw the wheels which were the great picture of the providence of God, could only say the wheels were so high that they were terrible, and were full of eyes, so that he cried, "O wheel!" If — I repeat it to make it plain — if always a calamity were the result of some sin, providence would be as simple as that twice two made four; it would be one of the first lessons that a little child might learn.

3. And then, will you allow me to remark, that the supposition against which I am earnestly contending, is a very cruel and unkind one. For if this were the case, that all persons who thus meet with their death in an extraordinary and terrible manner, were greater sinners than the rest, would it not be a crushing blow to bereaved survivors, and is it not ungenerous on our part to indulge the idea unless we are compelled by unanswerable reasons to accept it as an awful truth? Now, I defy you to whisper it in the widow's ear. And now, lastly — and then I leave this point — do you not perceive that the un-Christian and unscriptural supposition that when men suddenly meet with death it is the result of sin, robs Christianity of one of its noblest arguments for the immortality of the soul? Brethren, we assert daily, with Scripture for our warrant, that God is just; and inasmuch as He is just, He must punish sin, and reward the righteous. Manifestly He does not do it in this world. I think I have plainly shown that in this world one event happeneth to both; that the righteous man. is poor as well as the wicked, and that he dies suddenly as well as the most graceless. Very well, then, the inference is natural and clear that there must be a next world in which these things must be righted. If there be a God, He must be just; and if He be just, He must punish sin; and since He does not do it in this world, there therefore must be another state in which men shall receive the due reward of their works; and they that have sown to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, while they that have sown to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Make this world the reaping place, and you have taken the sting out of sin.

II. Now to our second point. WHAT USE, THEN, OUGHT WE TO MAKE OF THIS VOICE OF GOD AS HEARD AMIDST THE SHRIEKS AND GROANS OF DYING MEN?

1. The first inquiry we should put to ourselves is this: "Why may it not be my case that I may very soon and suddenly be cut off? Have I a lease of my life? Have I any special guardianship which ensures me that I shall not suddenly pass the portals of the tomb?" And the next question it should suggest is this: "Am not I as great a sinner as those who died? If in outward sin others have excelled me, are not the thoughts of my heart evil? Does not the same law which curses them curse me? It is as impossible that I should be saved by my works as that they should be. Am not I under the law as well as they by nature, and therefore am not I as well as they under the curse? That question should arise. Instead of thinking of their sins which would make me proud, I should think of my own which will make me humble. Instead of speculating upon their guilt, which is no business of mine, I should turn my eyes within and think upon my own transgression, for which I must personally answer before the Most High God." Then the next question is, "Have I repented of my sin? I need not be inquiring whether they have or not: have I? Since I am liable to the same calamity, am I prepared to meet it? Do I hate sin? Have I learned to abhor it? For if not, I am in as great danger as they were, and may quite as suddenly be cut off, and then where am I? I will not ask where are they? And then, again, instead of prying into the future destiny of these unhappy men and women, how much better to inquire into our own destiny and our own state!

2. When we have used it thus for inquiry, let me remind you that we ought to use it also for warning. "Ye shall all likewise perish." "No," says one, "not likewise. We shall not all be crushed; many of us will die in our beds. We shall not all be burned; many of us will tranquilly close our eyes." Ay, but the text says, "Ye shall all likewise perish." And let me remind you that some of you may perish in the same identical manner. You have no reason to believe that you may not also suddenly be cut off while walking the streets. You may fall dead while eating your meals — how many have perished with the staff of life in their hands! Ye shall be in your bed, and your bed shall suddenly be made your tomb. You shall be strong, hale, hearty, and in health, and either by an accident or by the stoppage of the circulation of your blood, you shall be suddenly hurried before your God. Oh: may sudden death to you be sudden glory! But it may happen with some of us, that in the same sudden manner as others have died, so shall we. But lately, in America, a brother, while preaching the Word, laid down his body and his charge at once. You remember the death of Dr. Beaumont, who, while proclaiming the gospel of Christ, closed his eyes to earth. And I remember the death of a minister in this country, who had but just given out the verse —

"Father, I long, I faint to see

The place of Thine abode;

I'd leave Thine earthly courts and flee

Up to Thy house, my God,"

when it pleased God to grant him the desire of his heart, and he appeared before the King in His beauty. Why, then, may not such a sudden death as that happen to you and to me?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. We may hence learn to beware of rashly judging others. Let us think of the guilt which we should thus incur, and also of the retribution in kind, which we should thereby prepare for ourselves.

2. We may hence learn not to be too hasty in interpreting afflictive dispensations of Providence against ourselves. We may sometimes hear a person who is labouring under great reverses, or heavy bodily distress, express himself thus, " Surely I must be a very. great sinner, else such things could never have been laid on me." If his meaning, in expressing himself thus, be that he is a great sinner in himself, that he suffers less than he deserves, that he might justly be cast off altogether, and that he ought to humble himself under the rod, and consider well what ought to be amended in his feelings and character — nothing can be more proper. But if his meaning be, that such sufferings are a proof that he is a sinner beyond others, and that he is still unpardoned and unrenewed, and that God is treating him as an enemy, and probably will cast him off for ever — nothing can be more hasty. The truth of the case may be the very opposite; and, if his humility be real, probably is the very opposite. Let all afflicted souls learn to seek to God for the sanctified use of their trouble, and support under it; and let none vex themselves with dark surmises whose trust is in the God of mercy.

3. We may hence learn to be thankful for our own preservation. When we hear of the heavy calamities, and the sudden removal of others, let us bless God for our own safety. What but His kind care has preserved us? Let us be thankful for our ordinary and daily preservation, and especially for signal deliverances. Let us be thankful, too, for our quietness and safety during our solemn religious services. When we think what blindness, unbelief, wandering of thought, and varied sinfulness, mix even with our very best services, and especially with our worst, how thankful should we be that the Lord has not broken in and made a breach on us, and mingled our blood with our sacrifices.

4. We learn from this passage, that it is our duty to mark and improve calamities, and especially violent and sudden deaths. It is right to speak of them to each other, with a view to our mutual benefit. When God's judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world should learn righteousness. "Be ye also ready: for, in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man commeth."

5. But there is one other lesson from this passage, on which I am especially desirous of fixing your attention, namely, the necessity of genuine repentance. Our Lord Himself, here says twice, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Consider, then, what is implied in repentance unto salvation; and seek to become possessed of it.

(James Foote, M. A.)

There is no account in Josephus, the only Jewish contemporary historian, of this massacre of the Galileans. The oldest account of it is in , about four hundred years after it occurred, and runs thus: "For these [Galileans] were followers of the opinions of Judas of Galilee, of whom Luke makes mention in the Acts of the Apostles, who said that we ought to call no man master. Great numbers of them refusing to acknowledge Caesar as their master were therefore punished by Pilate. They said also that men ought not to offer to God any sacrifices that were not ordained by the law of Moses, and so forbade to offer the sacrifices appointed by the people for the safety of the Emperor and the Roman people. Pilate, thus being enraged against the Galileans, ordered them to be slain in the midst of the very victims which they thought they might offer according to the custom of their law, so that the blood of the offerers was mingled with that of the victims offered." It is also conjectured that this interference of Pilate in slaying these Galileans was the cause of his quarrel with Herod, who resented his interference until a reconciliation took place by his sending Christ to him as one under his own jurisdiction.

(M. F. Sadler.)

I remember that terrible accident which occurred on the Thames — the sinking of the "Princess Alice" steamboat. It appalled everybody, and we called it a "mysterious providence." I remember reading in the newspapers that when the collision occurred the boat "cracked and crumbled like a matchbox" — that was the sentence used. Why did it do so? Not by a special providence, but because it was built like a matchbox — as slim and as flimsy: and the providence that ended so fatally was, as usual, not the providence of God, but the reckless greed of man.

(J. Jackson Wray.)

Modern science has brought the world a fifth gospel. In it we read that God commands us to give Him our whole heads as well as our whole hearts, for that we cannot know Him nor obey Him till we discern Him in every minutest fact, and every immutable law of the physical universe, as in every fact and law of the moral. It is barely two hundred years since the great Cotton Mather preached a famous sermon called "Burnings Bewailed," wherein he attributed a terrible conflagration to the wrath of God kindled against Sabbathbreaking and the accursed fashion of monstrous periwigs! For years after his time the Puritan colonies held fasts for mildew, for small-pox, for caterpillars, for grasshoppers, for loss of cattle by cold and visitation of God. They saw an Inscrutable Providence in all these things. But when their children had learned a better husbandry and better sanitary conditions the "visitations" ceased. When, in Chicago, a night's fire undid a generation's toil, spreading misery and death broadcast, was that horror in the least degree inexplicable? Every man who, within thirty years, had put up a wooden house in a city whose familiar breezes were gales, and whose gales were hurricanes, solicited that rain of fire. They who, hasting to be rich, fell into the snare of cheap and dangerous building, digged, every man, a pit for his neighbour's feet as well as for his own. The inscrutable aspect of the calamity was that it had not come years before. And the Providential lesson would seem to be that laws of matter are laws of God, and cannot be violated with impunity. When the earthquake well-nigh swallowed up Peru, five or six years ago, men stood aghast at the mysterious dispensation. But heaven has not only always declared that tropical countries are liable to earthquakes, but had taught the Peruviaus through hundreds of years to expect two earthquakes in a century, travelling in cycles from forty to sixty years apart. The citizens of Arica have not only this general instruction, but that special warning which nature always gives. A great light appeared to the south-east. Hollow sounds were heard. The dogs, the goats, even the swine foresaw the evil and hid themselves. But the simple men passed on and were punished. Before the Alpine freshets come the streams are coffee-coloured. Even the tornadoes of the tropics, which are instantaneous in their swoop, so plainly announce themselves to old sailors that they reef sails and save ship and life, while only the heedless perish. The simoon gives such certain and invariable warnings that the caravan is safe if it be wary. Herculaneum and Pompeii were built too far up the mountain. And that the builders knew quite as well as the excavators of the splendid ruins know it now. But they chose to take the risk. And to-day their cheerful compatriots gather their heedless vintage and sit beneath their perilous vines still nearer to the deadly crater. St. Petersburg has been three times inundated, and after each most fatal calamity processions filled the streets and masses were said to propitiate the mysterious anger of God. Peter the Great, who built the city, was the successor of Canute. He ordered the Gulf of Cronstadt to retire, and then set down his capital in the swamps of the verge of the Neva. Whenever the river breaks up with the spring floods, the trembling citizens are at sea in a bowl. Only three times has the bowl broken, so much money and skill have been expended upon it. But when a March gale shall drive the tide back upon the river, swollen and terrible with drifting ice, drowned St. Petersburg will be the pendant for burned Chicago.

(J. Jackson Wray.)

Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
True repentance is a change of mind, accompanied by a sincere renunciation of sin. Its evidences are —

1. A consciousness of the evil of sin.

2. Self-condemnation.

3. A sense of unworthiness.

4. Great grief on account of the sin committed.

5. A truthful confession before God.

6. Prayer for power to resist temptation.

7. A mind open to good impressions.

8. Its emblem among plants is a "bruised reed."

9. Its model among men is Christian weeping before the Cross, but afterwards Christian rejoicing in hope.This is "repentance that needeth not to be repented of "I desire to die," said Philip Henry, "preaching repentance; if out of the pulpit, I desire to die repenting."

(Van Doren.)

A young woman, being requested to join a Christian Society, stated that she had a tract given her when a scholar in a Sunday-school, in which tract an account was given of a young woman who died happy. This girl in her illness called her sister to her, and affectionately said, "Sister, if you do not repent of your sins, and turn to Jesus Christ, where God is you can never come." This so impressed the young woman that she never forgot it. She added, "Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, this was always on my mind, 'where God is you can never come.' I was very much distressed at-my situation, and could find no peace." She eventually, came to Jesus, became happy in the enjoyments of the pardon of her sins, through faith in the atonement of Christ Jesus, and lived in the expectation of realizing what her faith anticipated.

If seven robbers were to get into a man's house, even though six of them were discovered and made prisoners, and sent off to jail, yet, as long as the seventh was known to be concealed in some secret corner, the master of the house could not well feel himself out of danger. Or, if a bird has fallen into a snare, and is only caught by a single claw; or, if any animal has been caught in a trap, though it should be only by the leg, yet they are both in as much danger as if their whole bodies were entrapped. Thus it is that certain destruction awaits us, unless all sin, even the very least, be repented of. Pharaoh, after having been smitten with many plagues, at last consented to let the people go, provided they left their sheep and cattle behind them. But this would not satisfy Moses. He, acting for God, says, "All the flocks and herds must go along with us; not a hoof shall be left." So Satan, like Pharaoh, would keep some sin in us as a pledge of our returning to him again; and even though sin be taken away, he would wish the occasion of sin to remain. For instance, he might say, "Leave off gaming; but still there is no occasion to burn the cards and throw away the dice." "You must not do your enemy any injury, but there is no occasion for you to love him." But God's language is of a different sort. He says that the occasion of sin, though it be dear as a right hand, must be cut off; if we retain an eye for Satan to put his hook into, he will be sure to insinuate himself, and the latter end may be worse than the beginning.

(F. F. Trench.)

Suppose I should preach the gospel in some gambling-saloon of New York, and suppose a man should come out convicted of his wickedness, and confess it before God, and pray that he might be forgiven. Forgiveness might be granted to him, so far as he individually was concerned. But suppose he should say, "O God, not only restore to me the joys of salvation, but give me back the mischief that I have done, that I may roll it out." Why, there was one man that shot himself; what are you going to do for him? A young man came to Indianapolis, when I was pastor there, on his way to settle in the West. He was young, callow, and very self-confident. While there he was robbed, in a gambling-saloon, of fifteen hundred dollars — all that he had. He begged to be allowed to keep enough to take him home to his father's house, and he was kicked out into the street. It led to his suicide. I know the man that committed the foul deed. He used to walk up and down the street. Oh, how my soul felt thunder when I met him 1 If anything lifts me up to the top of Mount Sinai, it is to see one man wrong another. Now suppose this man should repent? Can he ever call back that suicide? Can he ever carry balm to the hearts of the father and mother and brothers and sisters of his unfortunate victim? Can he ever wipe off the taint and disgrace that he has brought on the escutcheon of that family? No repentance can spread over that. And yet how many men there are that are heaping up such transgressions!

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT LED TO THIS IMPORTANT TEACHING ABOUT REPENTANCE.

II. THE NATURE OF REPENTANCE.

1. The relation of repentance to faith. In order of time they spring up together in the soul. In order of nature faith must precede repentance. We cannot turn from sin without Christ, and we cannot come to Christ without faith.

2. Repentance consists of three elements.(1) Godly sorrow for sin.

1. Not mere sorrow for sin, for there is much sorrow because sin is an evil and brings punishment, yet no godly element in it.

2. It is the sorrow of a man more concerned for his guilt than his misery, whereas worldly sorrow is more concerned for the misery than the guilt, and would plunge into deeper guilt to escape the misery.

3. Illustrations of worldly sorrow (Pharaoh, Ahab, Judas).

4. The true spirit of godly sorrow is that of the prodigal — "I have sinned before heaven, and in Thy sight." Also David's sorrow (Psalm 51:1-4).(2) Confession of sin.

1. This is an essential part of repentance. (Often a relief to guilty men to confess their crime.)

2. It must be very thorough and humbling and heart-searching.

3. It is connected with the continuous forgiveness of believers (1 John 1:7).(3) Turning from sin to God.

1. The godly sorrow must have a practical result, in the way of proving its genuineness and attesting itself by fruits.

2. Necessity of reparation recognized by civil law (cases of libel). But there are injuries in which no reparation can be made (murder).

3. In cases of Pharaoh, Ahab, Judas, no turning from sin to God, though there may have been sorrow and confession of sin.

4. There must be a turning from all sin — from the love and the practice of that which is sinful.

III. THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE.

1. Jesus spoke-the words of the text in a spirit of prophecy. (Forty years after, at siege of Jerusalem, the Jews felt the meaning of the "likewise" of the text.)

2. Preachers cannot now say that, but they can say that if you do not repent you will perish everlastingly.

(T. Croskery, D. D.)

1. That those who meet with more signal strokes than others, are not, therefore, to be accounted greater sinners than others. The Lord spares some as great sinners, as He signally punisheth. I tell you, nay. Reasons of this dispensation of Providence:

1. Because of God's sovereign power and absolute dominion, which He will have the world to understand — "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own?" (Matthew 20:15.)

2. Because we are now under the mixed dispensation of Providence; not the unmixed, reserved to another world, when all men shall be put into their unalterable state.

3. Because the mercy of God to some is magnified by His severity on others.

4. Because in very signal strokes very signal mercies may be wrapped up.

5. Because this dispensation is in some sort necessary to confirm us in the belief of the judgment of the great day.USE 1. Then learn that unordinary strokes may befall those that are not unordinary sinners; and therefore be not rash in your judgment concerning the strokes that others meet with.

2. Then adore the mercy of God to you, and wonder at His sparing you, when ye see others smart under the hand of God.

3. That the strokes which any meet with, are pledges of ruin to impenitent sinners. But "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."Reasons of this are —

1. Because they show how hateful to God sin is, in whomsoever it is (Isaiah 42:24).

2. Because they show how just God is. He is the Judge of all the earth, and cannot but do right.

3. Because whatever any meet with in the way of sin is really designed for warning to others, as is clear from the text (see 1 Corinthians 10:11, 12).

4. Because all those strokes which sinners meet with in this life are the spittings of the shower of wrath that abides the impenitent world, after which the full shower may certainly be looked for.USE 1. Be not unconcerned spectators of all the effects of God's anger for sin going abroad in the world; for your part and mine is deep in them. There is none of them but says to us, as in the same condemnation, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

2. Consider, O impenitent sinners, how can ye escape, when your ruin is insured by so many pledges thereof from the Lord's hand, while ye go on in sin?

3. The strokes that others meet with are loud calls to us to repent. That is the language of all the afflicting providences which we see going on in the world.To confirm this, consider —

1. God does not strike one for sin with a visible stroke, but with an eye to all.

2. Thereby we may see how dangerous a thing sin is to be harboured; and if we will look inward, we may ever see that there is sin in us also against the God of Israel.

3. How much more do strokes from the hand of the Lord on ourselves call us to repent? (Hosea 2:6, 7).USE 1. We may see that none go on impenitently in a sinful course, but over the belly of thousands of calls from Providence to repent, besides all those they have from the Word.

2. Impenitency under the gospel cannot have the least shadow of excuse. The calls of Providence common to the whole world, are sufficient to leave the very heathens without excuse (Romans 1:20); how much more shall the calls of the Word and Providence, too, make us inexcusable if we do not repent? I come now to the principal doctrine of the text.

I. EXPLAIN THE NATURE OF REPENTANCE.

1. What it is in its general nature.

2. How it is wrought in the soul.

3. The subject of true repentance.

4. The parts of repentance.I come now to the application of the whole. And here I would sound the alarm in the ears of impenitent sinners, to repent, and turn from their sins unto God. O sinners, repent, repent; ye are gone away to your lusts and idols, turn from them; ye have turned your back on God, turn to Him again. In prose. curing this call to repentance, I shall —

1. Endeavour to convince you of the need you have to repent.

2. Lay before you a train of motives to repentance.

3. Show you the great hindrances of repentance. And —

4. Give directions in order to your obtaining repentance.(1) Labour to see sin in its own colours, what an evil thing it is (Jeremiah 2:19). What makes us to cleave to sin is false apprehensions we have about it.To see it in itself would be a means to make us fly from it. For this end consider —

1. The majesty of God offended by sin. Ignorance of God is the mother of impenitency (Acts 17:30).

2. The obligations we lie under to serve Him, which by sin we trample upon.

3. The wrath of God that abides impenitent sinners.

4. The good things our unrepented-of sins deprive us of.

5. The many evils which are bred by our sin against the honour of God, our own and our neighhour's true interest.

(1)Be much in the thoughts of death. Consider how short and uncertain your time is.

(2)Dwell on the thoughts of a judgment to come, where ye shall be made to give an account of yourselves.

(3)Meditate on the sufferings of Christ.

(4)Pray for repentance, and believingly seek and long for the Lord's giving the new heart, according to His promise (Ezekiel 36:26).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. NATURE.

1. Repentance implies godly sorrow for sin.

2. Repentance involves hatred of sin.

3. Repentance includes reformation. This, as it respects both the affections of the heart and the conduct of the life, is the crowning excellence of this evangelical virtue.

II. NECESSITY. "Except... perish."

1. This is the decision of God respecting all men.

2. The facts point this way. Sinners have perished — sinners distinguished by no peculiarity of guilt — sinners, therefore, in whose case there was no more reason to anticipate the righteous judgments of heaven than there is to anticipate it in other cases. What God has done in these instances, there is every reason to believe He will do in others like them. This is the argument of our Lord, and it comes to us in unabated force.

3. The moral government of God requires it.

4. Also the moral character of God. Sin is abhorrent to His nature. As a holy God, He must regard it with absolute abhorrence and ceaseless displeasure. To suppose otherwise is to suppose God either to approve or to be indifferent to what is directly opposite to Himself, and worthy of His eternal rebuke. It is to suppose God to hate, or wholly disregard His own perfections and glory. But can a spotless God hate Himself? Can His own infinite perfection become an object of indifference to Himself? Can He fail to abhor sin with a measure of indignation proportioned to the purity and infinitude of His nature?

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

We should labour to make good use to ourselves of God's judgments on others. Why? God expects it; this is the way to prevent the execution on ourselves. How?

1. "Learning righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9); faith, seeing Him execute threatenings; fear, beholding His severity; obedience, sure want of that is the cause; love, whilst we escape.

2. Forsaking sin: "Sin no more" (John 5:14). All sin, because every sin is pregnant with judgment; therefore it summons to search and try, etc., especially those sins which brought wrath on others. Observe providences; use means to discover what is the Achan, &c. We have great occasion to practise this. Wrath is kindled and burns, &c.; the cup of indignation goes round; the sword has had a commission, &c.; the scars and smarting impressions continue in bodies, estates, liberties. Let us learn to believe, to tremble, to love. Let us forsake sin, our own; the sins that have unsheathed the sword, mixed this bitter cup. Make not this warning ineffectual with the Jews' supposition. Rather hear, believe, apply what Christ says, Except I repent, &c.

I. FROM THE ADMONISHER, CHRIST, IN THAT HE TEACHES REPENTANCE. Repentance is an evangelical duty; a gospel, a new-covenant duty. This should not be questioned by those who either believe what the gospel delivers, or understand what it is to be evangelical; but since it is denied, let us prove it. And first from this ground.

1. Christ taught repentance. But He taught nothing but what was evangelical.

2. It is excluded by the covenant of works. No room for repentance there.

3. It is required in the gospel (Acts 17:30).

4. It was preached by the apostles (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:28; Acts 3:19).

5. It was the end of Christ's coming (Matthew 9:13) to call sinners.

6. It was purchased by Christ's death (Acts 5:31).

7. It has evangelical promises.

8. It is urged upon evangelical grounds (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:14, 15).

9. It is the condition of the prime evangelical mercy. God offers, gives remission of sins, upon condition of repentance. What Christ commands us, Himself does practise (Luke 17:3). If he repent, forgive him. So Acts 3:19, and Acts 2:38.

10. It is confirmed by the seal of the covenant of grace. Baptism is the seal of repentance.

11. It is a fundamental of Christianity (Hebrews 6:1).

12. It is the way to life (Acts 11:18).

1. It reproves those who reject this duty as legal. Certainly those who find not this in the gospel, have found another gospel besides that which Christ and His disciples preached.

2. Exhort. To practise this duty evangelically, that is most congruous. Directions:(1) Undertake it for evangelical ends. The end gives nature and name to the action. If your aims be legal, mercenary, the act will be so. Go not about it only to escape hell, avoid wrath, satisfy justice, remove judgments, pacify conscience. Ahab and Pharaoh can repent thus, those who are strangers to the covenant of grace. How then? Endeavour that you may give God honour, that ye may please Him, that you may comply with His will, that you may never more return to folly. Confess, to give honour, as Joshua 7:19, get hearts broken, that you may offer sacrifice well pleasing.(2) Let evangelical motives lead you to the practice of it. Act as drawn by the cords of love. The goodness of God should lead you to it (Romans 2.).(3) In an evangelical manner, freely, cheerfully, with joy and delight; not as constrained, but willingly.(4) Repent that ye can repent no more. This is an evangelical temper, to be sensible of the defects and failings of spiritual duties.(5) Think not your repentance is the cause of any blessing: it is neither the meritorious nor impulsive cause; it neither deserves any mercy, nor moves the Lord to bestow any.(6) Think not that your repentance can satisfy God, or make amends for the wrongs sin has done Him.(7) Ye must depend upon Christ for strength, ability to repent; all evangelical works are done in His strength.(8) Ye must expect the acceptance of your repentance from Christ.(9) Think not your repentance obliges God to the performance of any promise, as though He were thereby bound, and could not justly refuse to bestow what He has promised to the penitent; for He is not obliged to fulfil it till the condition be perfectly performed. Imperfect repentance is not the condition; God requires nothing imperfect. If He accomplishes His promise upon our weak detective endeavours, it is not because He is by them engaged, but from some other engaging consideration. Now our repentance is defective, both in quantity and quality, measure and manner, neither so great nor so good as is required. Why, then, does God perform? How is He obliged? Why, it is Christ that has obliged Him; He makes good the condition. When we cannot bring so much as is required, He makes up the sum; He adds grains to that which wants weight. He has satisfied for our defects, and they are for His sake pardoned, and therefore are accepted, as though they were not defective.(10) Expect a reward, not from justice, but mercy.

II. Thus much for the admonisher, "I tell you." PROCEED WE TO THE ADMONITION. And in it —

1. The correction, "nay." Hereby He corrects two mistakes of the Jews:(1) Concerning their innocency. They thought themselves innocent, compared with the Galileans, not so great sinners (ver. 2).(2) Concerning their impunity, grounded on the former. Because not so great sinners, they should not be so great sufferers, nor perish as they in the text.From the first.

1.(1) Impenitent sinners are apt to think themselves not so great sinners as others; to justify themselves, as Pharisees in reference to others; like crows, fly over flowers and fruit, to pitch upon carrion; say as Isaiah 65:5, "Stand by thyself," &c.(a) Because never illuminated to see the number, nature, aggravations of their own sins, how many, how sinful; examine not their hearts and lives; judge of sins according to outward appearance, not secret heinousness.(b) Self-love. They cover, extenuate, excuse their own; multiply, magnify others.(c) Ignorance of their natural sinfulness. In which respect they are equally sinful as others. Seed-plots of sin; have a root of bitterness, an evil treasure of heart; a disposition to the most abominable sins that ever were committed, such as they never thought of, nor will ever believe they should yield to (2 Kings 8:11, 12); want nothing but temptation, a fit occasion. Take heed of this. It is a sign of impenitency. Paul counts himself the chief of sinners: "If you judge yourselves," etc. (1 Corinthians 11:31).(2) From their conceit of impunity. Sinners are apt to flatter themselves with the hopes they shall escape judgments. If they can believe they are not so great sinners, they are apt to conclude they shall not perish: "Put far from them the evil day" (Amos 6:3), threatened (ver. 7); cry Peace, &c. Satan has blinded them. Beware of this. It has been the ruin of millions. Those perish soonest who think they shall longest escape (Amos 6:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; "Be not deceived, God is not mocked," &c. Believe the Lord threatening rather than Satan promising.

2. The direction — "Repent." Repentance has such a relation to, such a connection with, life and salvation, as this cannot be expected without that; for though it be neither merit nor motive, yet consider it as it is, an antecedent and sign, qualification, condition, or means of life and salvation, and the truth will appear.(1) An antecedent. So there must be no salvation till first there be repentance. Sown in tears before reap in joy.(2) Sign. A symptom of one being an heir to salvation.(3) Qualification. To fit for life. He that is in love with sin is not fit for heaven. No unclean thing enters there. Neither will God Himself endure him to be there.(4) Condition. For that is, without it, never see God: "Except ye," &c. This is the condition, without which ye shall not escape.(5) Means and way to life: Christ's highway. "Repentance to life" (Acts 11:18). Peter directs them to this (Acts 2:38). What is it to repent? Why must they perish that do not?To repent, is to turn; to return from former evil ways (Ezekiel 14:6).

1. Sorrow for sin. To repent, is to mourn for sin (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10).(1) Hearty, such as greatly affects the heart. Not that of the tongue, which is usual, I am sorry, &c.; nor that of the eyes neither, if tears spring not from a broken heart; not verbal, slight, outward, superficial, but great, bitter, cordial humbling; such sorrow as will afflict the soul.(2) Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10), sorrow for sin, as it is against God; not as it is against yourselves, prejudicial to you; as it brings judgments, exposes to wrath, makes you obnoxious to justice, brings within the compass of curses, and in danger of hell.

2. Hatred of sin. This is an act of repentance, and that indeed which is principally essential to it. This hatred is

(1)well-grounded;

(2)universal;

(3)irreconcileable.

3. Forsaking sin. Terror to impenitent sinners. Hear the doom in the text: "Except ye repent," etc. Those that do not, will not repent, must perish, shall perish. There is no way without repentance to avoid perishing, and these will not repent, mourn, hate, forsake sin.What will become of them? Christ, the righteous Judge, gives sentence, they shall perish, certainly, universally, eternally.

1. Certainly. For Christ has said it. He speaks peremptorily; not they may, but they shall.

2. Universally. All, and every one, without exception, whatever he be, have, do, or can do, "Except," &c. Christ speaks to the Jews, and to all without exception — all perish. If any people in the world had any ground to plead exemption, sure it was the Jews; no people ever in greater favour, none ever had greater privileges. Whatever you can plead why this should not concern you, they had as much ground to plead.

3. Eternally. Soul and body, here and hereafter, now and for ever, must perish without redemption: For who shall redeem from it but Christ? and Christ cannot do it except He will act against His own Word, except He will deny Himself. The sentence is passed, and none in heaven will, none in earth can, recall it. Exhortation: To the practice of this duty. Christ urges it, and under such a penalty. These should be sufficient enforcements. But there are many more considerations to stir up to this duty.I shall reduce them to three heads: some concerning —

1. Sin to be repented of.

2. Christ that urges repentance.

3. Repentance itself, the duty urged.

1. Concerning sin.(1) No creature ever got, nor can get, any advantage by sin.(2) The least sin is infinitely evil. When I say infinite, I say there is more evil in it than the tongue of men or angels can express, than their largest apprehensions can conceive. When I say infinite evil, I understand it is a greater evil than the greatest in the world besides it.(3) The least sin deserves infinite punishment, i.e., greater than any can endure, express, or imagine.(4) The least sin cannot be expiated without infinite satisfaction.(5) It is the cause of all the evils that we count miseries in the world. Whatsoever is fearful, or grievous, or hateful, owes its birth to sin. Were it not for sin, either no evil would be in the world, or that which is now evil would be good.(6) It is the soul's greatest misery. Those evils which sin has brought into the world are lamentable, but the miseries wherein it has involved the soul are much more grievous.(7) It is God's greatest adversary; it has done much against the world, more against man's soul; aye, but that which it does against God is most considerable, as that which should move us to hate, bewail, abandon it, above all considerations. It has filled the world with fearful evils, the soul with woeful miseries; but the injuries it does to God are most horrible.(8) Consider the multitude of your sins. If any one sin be so infinitely evil in itself and in its effects, oh how evil is he, what need to repent, who is guilty of a multitude of sins

2. Considerations from Christ, who enjoins repentance. If our sins were occasion of sorrow to Him, great reason have we to mourn for them. But so it is; our sins made Him a man of sorrows. The cup which He gives to us, He drank Himself; He drank out the dregs and bitterness, the wormwood and gall, wherewith this sorrow was mixed. That which He left to us is pleasant. The cup which Christ gives us, shall we not drink it? Nay, the cup which Christ drank, shall we refuse to taste? Our sins made Him weep and sigh, and cry out in the anguish of His spirit; and shall we make a sport of sin?

3. Considerations from repentance, the duty enjoined. That is the time when all happiness begins, when misery ends, the period of evils; the time from whence ye must date all mercies. Till then, never expect to receive the least mercy, or have the least judgment, evil, removed without repentance.

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

There is a peculiar point and pregnancy of import in these words, which may be wholly overlooked in making them a simple basis for the general affirmation that all sinners must repent or perish. This, true and awful as it is, is rather presupposed than positively stated. To confine ourselves to this, as the whole meaning, is to lose sight of two emphatic words — "ye" and "likewise." Assuming, as a truth already known, that all men must repent or perish, the text affirms that they whom it addresses must repent or perish likewise, that is, like those particularly mentioned in the context. Another feature of the passage which is apt to be neglected is, that it not only teaches the necessity of repentance to salvation, but presents a specific motive for its exercise, or rather teaches us to seek occasions of repentance in a quarter where most of us are naturally least disposed to seek them; nay, where most of us are naturally and habitually prone to find excuses for indulging sentiments as far removed from those of penitence as possible; uncharitable rigour and censorious pride.

1. That suffering is a penal consequence of sin seems to be a dictate of reason and conscience no less than of revelation. At all events, it is a doctrine of religion which, above most others, seems to command the prompt assent of the human understanding. They who acknowledge the existence of a God at all, have probably no impressions of His power or His justice stronger than those which are associated with His providential strokes, and more especially with death as the universal penalty. War, pestilence, and famine are regarded by the common sense of men not merely as misfortunes, but as punishments, and nothing more effectually . rouses in the multitude the recollection of their sins than the report or the approach of those providential scourges. In all this the popular judgment is according to the truth.

2. What is thus true in the aggregate must needs be true in detail. If all the suffering in the world proceeds from sin, then every Divine judgment in particular must flow from the same source. Wherever we see suffering we see a proof not only that there is sin somewhere to account for and to justify that suffering, but that the individual sufferer is a sinner.

3. And yet it cannot be denied that there is something in this doctrine thus presented, against which even the better feelings of our nature are disposed to revolt. This is especially the case when we contemplate instances of aggravated suffering endured by those who are comparatively innocent, and still more when the sufferings of such are immediately occasioned by the wickedness of others. Can it be that the dying agonies of one who falls a victim to the murderous revenge or the reckless cupidity of others are to be regarded as the punishment of sin? Against this representation all our human sympathies and charities appear to cry aloud, and so intense is the reaction in some minds that they will not even listen to the explanation.

4. This feeling of repugnance, though it springs from a native sense of justice, is mistaken in its application because founded upon two misapprehensions. In the first place it assumes that the sufferings, in the case supposed, are said to be the penal fruits of sin committed against man, and more especially against the author of the sufferings endured. Hence we are all accustomed to enhance the guilt of murder, in some cases, by contrasting the virtues of the victim with the crimes of the destroyer. And in such a state of mind not one of us, perhaps, would be prepared to hear with patience that the murder was a righteous recompense of sin. But why? Because at such a moment we can look no further than the proximate immediate agent, and to think of him as having any claim or right of punishment is certainly preposterous. But when the excitement is allayed, and we have lost sight of the worthless and justly abhorred instrument, we may perhaps be able to perceive that, in the presence of an infinitely holy God, the most innocent victim of man's cruelty is, in himself, deserving only of displeasure; or, at least, that no difficulties hang about that supposition, except such as belong to the whole subject of sin and punishment.

5. If any does remain, it probably has reference to the seeming disproportion of the punishment to that of others, or to any particular offence with which the sufferer seems chargeable in comparison with others. But there is no authority for holding that every providential stroke is a specific punishment of some specific sin, or that the measure of men's sufferings here is in exact proportion to their guilt, so that they upon whom extraordinary judgment seem to fall are thereby proved to be extraordinary sinners.

6. The effect of this last error is the more pernicious, and the cure of it more difficult, because the doctrine which it falsely imputes to Christianity is really maintained by many Christians as well as by many who make no such professions. It often unexpectedly betrays itself in a censorious attempt to trace the sufferings of others back to certain causes, often more offensive in the sight of human censors and inquisitors than in that of a heart-searching God. But even where the sin charged is indeed a sin, its existence is hastily inferred from the supposed judgment, without any other evidence whatever. This uncharitable tendency can be cured only by the correction of the error which produces it.

7. But in attempting this correction there is need of extreme caution, as in all other cases where an error has arisen, not from sheer invention or denial of the truth, but from exaggeration, or perversion, or abuse of truth itself. Let us not, e.g., attempt to vindicate the ways of God to man by denying the doctrine of a particular providence. No distinction can be drawn between the great and small as objects of God's notice and His care, without infringing on the absolute perfection of His nature by restricting His omniscience.

8. Nor must we deny any penal or judicial connection between particular providential strokes and the sins of the individual sufferer. To deny that the bloated countenance, the trembling limbs, the decaying mind, the wasted fortune, and the blasted fame of the drunkard or the libertine, are penally consequences of sin, of his own sin, of his own besetting, reigning, darling sin, would be ridiculous, and all men would regard it in that light. And the same thing is true of some extraordinary providences. When a bold blasphemer, in the act of imprecating vengeance on his own head, falls down dead before us, it would argue an extreme of philosophical caution or of sceptical reserve to hesitate to say, as the magicians said to Pharaoh when they found them. selves confronted with effects beyond the capacity of any human or created power, "This is the finger of God." What, then, it may be asked, is the error, theoretical or practical, which Christ condemns, and against which we are warned to be for ever on our guard?If it be true, not only that suffering in general is the fruit of sin, and that every individual sufferer is a sinner, but that particular sufferings may be recognized as penal retributions of particular sins, where is the harm in tracing the connection for our edification or for that of others?

1. Even if the general rule be granted the exceptions are so many and notorious as to render it inapplicable as a standard or criterion of character.

2. This is a matter which God has not subjected to our scrutiny.

3. The tendency of such inquisitions, as shown by all experience, is not so much to edify as to subject — not so much to wean from sin as to harden in self-righteousness, by letting the censorship of other men's sins and other men's punishment divert our thoughts entirely from those which we commit, or those which we are to experience. Here, then, is the use which this instructive passage teaches us to make of the calamities of others, whether those which fall on individuals in private life, or those which strike whole classes and communities. The whole secret may be told in one short word — Repent. As the goodness of God to ourselves ought to lead us to repentance, so ought His judgments upon others to produce the same effect. Every such judgment should remind us that our own escape is but a respite — that if they who perish in our sight were guilty, we are guilty too, and that unless we repent we must all likewise perish. The words are full of solemn warning and instruction to us all. They give a tongue and an articulate utterance to every signal providence, to every sudden death, to every open grave, to every darkened house, to every scattered fortune, to every blighted reputation, to every broken heart in society around us. They command us, they entreat us to withdraw our view from the calamities of others as proofs of their iniquity, and to view them rather as memorials of our own, of that common guilt to which these manifold distresses owe their origin, and in which we, alas! are so profoundly and so ruinously implicated.

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

Now the principle that every judgment of God is connected, in the way of ordinary cause and effect, with the sin or error therein condemned, destroys at once the notion that plague or famine are judgments upon us for infidelity, or rationalism, or sabbath-breaking, or our private sins, for there is plainly no natural connection between the alleged sin and the alleged punishment. For example, the town which takes due sanitary precautions may refuse to give one penny to missions, but it will not be visited by a virulent outbreak of cholera. The town which takes no sanitary precautions, but gives £10,000 a-year to missions, will, in spite of its Christian generosity, become a victim to the epidemic. The lightning will strike the ship of the good man who chooses to sail without a lightning-conductor, it will spare the ship of the atheist and the blasphemer who provides himself with the protecting rod. There is, then, always a natural connection between the sin and the punishment, and the punishment points out its own cause. It is my intention this morning to show the truth of this principle in other spheres than that of epidemic disease. If we can manifest its universality, we go far to prove its truth. Take as the first illustration the case of the moral law. The commandments have force, therefore, not because they are commanded by a God of power, but because they are either needful for, or natural to, human nature. Nor is the judgment which follows on their violation any more arbitrary than the laws themselves. As they have their root in our nature so they have their punishment in our nature. Violate a moral law and our constitution protests through our conscience. Sorrow awakes, remorse follows, and remorse is felt in itself to be the mark of separation from God. The punishment is not arbitrary, but natural. Moreover, each particular violation of the moral law has its own proper judgment. The man who is dishonest in one branch of his life soon feels dishonesty — not impurity, not anything else but dishonesty — creep through his whole life and enter into all his actions. Impurity has its own punishment, and that is increasing corruption of heart. Take, again, the intellectual part of man. The necessities for intellectual progress are attention, perseverance, practice. Refuse to submit to these laws and you are punished by loss of memory or inactivity of memory, by failure in your work or by inability to think and act quickly at the proper moment. Again, take what may be called national laws. These have been, as it were, codified by the Jewish prophets. They were men whose holiness brought them near to God and gave them insight into the diseases of nations. They saw clearly the natural result of these diseases and they proclaimed it to the world. They looked on Samaria, and saw there a corrupt aristocracy, failing patriotism, oppress/on of the poor, falsification of justice, and they said, God will judge this city, and it shall be overthrown by Assyria. Well, was that an arbitrary judgment? It was of God; but given a powerful neighbour, and a divided people in which the real fighting and working class has been crushed, enslaved, and unjustly treated — and an enervated, lazy, pleasure-consumed upper class, and what is the natural result? Why, that very thing which the prophets called God's judgment. God's judgment was the natural result of the violation of the first of national laws — even-handed justice to all parties in the State. The same principle is true in a thousand instances in-history; the national judgments of war, revolution, pestilence, famine, are the direct results of the violation by nations of certain plain laws which have become clear by experience. For these judgments come to teach nations what is wrong in them, and the judgments must come again and again while the wrong thing is there. We find them out by punishment, as a child finds out that he must not touch fire by being burnt. The conclusion I draw from this is, that all national judgments of God come about naturally. But there are certain judgments mentioned in the Bible which seem to be supernatural — the destruction of Sodom, of Sennacherib's army, of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, the plagues sent upon the Israelites, and others. These are the difficulty. How shall we explain them? or shall we seek to explain them at all? First, we must remember that the writers had not the knowledge capable of explaining them; that nature to them was an insoluble mystery. They naturally, then, referred these things to a direct action of God, or rather, because they were out of the common, to an interference of God with nature. They were right in referring them to God, but it is possible that, owing to their ignorance of nature, they were wrong in their way of explaining them. Secondly. There is a thought which goes far, if it be true, to explain these things — it is that the course of human history may be so arranged, that, at times, healing or destructive natural occurrences coincide with crises in the history of a nation. For example, we might say that the sins of Sodom had reached their height at the very period when the elastic forces which were swelling beneath the plain of the Dead Sea had reached their last possible expansion. Or that the army of Senncherib lay encamped in the way of the pestilential wind, which would have blown over the spot whether they had been there or not. Thirdly. Whatever difficulty these things present to us in the Bible, the same difficulty occurs in what is profanely called profane history. There is not the slightest doubt, were our English history written by a Hebrew of the time of the kings, that the eclipse and the thunderstorm at Creci, and that the storms which broke the Armada on the rocks of England and Scotland, would have been imputed to a miraculous interference by God with the course of nature. We do not believe these to have been miraculous; but we do believe them, with the Jew, to be of God. But we must also believe that they are contained in the order of the world — not disorderly elements arbitrarily introduced. That is, while believing in God as the Director and Ruler of human affairs, we must also believe in Him as the Director and Ruler of the course of nature. We see in all things this law holding good — that God's judgments are natural. There is another class of occurrences which have been called judgments of God, but to which the term judgment is inapplicable. There are even now some who say that the sufferers under these blows of nature suffer because they are under the special wrath of God. What does Christ say to that? He bluntly contradicts it! "I tell you nay" — it is not so. There are not a few who still blindly think that suffering proves God's anger. Has the Cross taught us nothing better than that, revealed to us no hidden secret? There is no pain, mental or physical, which is not a part of God's continual self-sacrifice in us, and which, were we united to life and not to death, we should not see as joy. But, say others, God is cruel to permit such loss. Three thousand souls have perished in this hurricane. Is this your God of love? But look at the history of the hurricane. "Could not God arrange to have a uniform climate over all the earth?" We are spiritually puzzled, and, to arrange our doubts, God must make another world l We know not what we ask. A uniform climate over all the earth means simply the death of all living beings. It is the tropic heat and the polar cold which cause the currents of the ocean and the air and keep them fresh and pure. A stagnant atmosphere, a rotting sea, that is what we ask for. It is well God does not take us at our word, When we wish the hurricane away, we wish away the tropic heats in the West Indies and along the whole equator. What do we do then? We wish away the Gulf Stream and annihilate England. How long would our national greatness last if we had here the climate of Labrador? Because a few perish, is God to throw the whole world into confusion? The few must be sometimes sacrificed to the many. But they are not sacrificed without due warning. In this case God tells us plainly in His book of nature, that He wants to keep His air and His seas fresh and clean for His children to breathe and sail upon. The West Indies is the place where this work is done for the North Atlantic and its borders, and unless the whole constitution of the world be entirely changed, that work must be done by tornadoes. God has made that plain to us; and to all sailing and living about warm currents like the Gulf Stream it is as if God said, "Expect my hurricanes; they must come. You will have to face danger and death, and it is My law that you should face it everywhere in spiritual as well as physical life; and to call Me unloving because I impose this on you, is to mistake the true ideal of your humanity. I mean to make you active men, not slothful dreamers. I will not make the world too easy for My children. I want veteran men, not untried soldiers; men of endurance, foresight, strength and skill for My work, and I set before you the battle. You must face manfully those forces which you call destructive, but which are in reality reparative." Brethren, we cannot complain of the destructive forces of nature. We should have been still savages had we not to contend against them.

(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

I. I shall observe WHAT KIND OF REFLECTIONS OR CONCLUSIONS WE MAY JUSTLY RAISE UPON ANY CALAMITIES WHICH BEFALL OTHER MEN.

1. In the first place, we need not be scrupulous of thinking or saying that the persons so visited are visited for their sins. Our blessed Lord finds no fault with the Jews for suggesting or supposing that the Galileans were sinners, and were punished by God for their sins. All mere men are sinners, and all afflictions whatever have a retrospect to sins committed, and are, in strictness of speech, punishments of sin.

2. That all calamities whatever are to be understood as coming from the hand of God. The Jews looked upwards to a higher hand than his, supposing Pilate to be the minister or executioner only of the Divine vengeance; and in this they judged right.

II. To TAKE NOTICE OF THOSE EXTREMES WHICH MANY SO RUN INTO, BUT WHICH WE OUGHT ABOVE ALL THINGS CAREFULLY TO AVOID. There are two noted excesses in this matter: one the text expressly mentions, the other is omitted, or only tacitly pointed to. That which is mentioned, is, the drawing rash and uncharitable conclusions from greater sufferings to greater sins; as if they who have suffered most must of consequence have been the worst of sinners. The other, which is not mentioned, but yet is tacitly condemned, is, the being positive and peremptory as to the particular sin, or kind of sin, that draws down God's judgments upon any particular person or persons. That which I now intend to treat of, is the pointing out, or specifying the particular sin or sins, for which we suppose God's judgments to have fallen upon any particular person or persons. The motives for doing this are many and various, as circumstances vary, though all centering in self-flattery, or partial fondness to ourselves. Sometimes it is vanity and ostentation, while we affect to make a show of more than common sagacity in discovering the hidden springs of events, and in interpreting the secrets of Divine providence. Sometimes party prejudices and passions have the greatest hand in it; while we are willing to measure God by ourselves, and to fancy that He takes the same side that we do. If our opposers or adversaries fall into troubles or disasters, how agreeable a thought is it to imagine that it was a judgment upon them for their opposition to us. But the most common and prevailing motive of all for censuring others in this manner on account of their afflictions, is to ward off the apprehension of the like from our own doors, and to speak peace to ourselves. Observe it carefully, and you will scarce find a man charging a judgment of God upon others for any particular sin, and at the same time acknowledging himself guilty in the like kind. No, he will be particularly careful to pitch upon some vice, which he himself, in imagination at least, stands clear of, and is the farthest from. The designs of providence are vast and large; God's thoughts are very deep, His judgments unsearchable, His ways past finding out.

1. Sometimes the primary reasons, or moving causes of the Divine judgments, lie remote and distant in place or in time; several years, perhaps, or even gererations, backwards. God may "visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him. He has at any time full power and right to take away the life which He gives, or any worldly comforts which Himself bestows; and if He sometimes chooses to exercise this right and power on account of things done several years or ages upwards, there can be no injustice in so doing; but it may more fully answer the ends of discipline, and God may show forth His wisdom in it. This I hint, by the way, as to the reason of the thing: the facts are evident from the sacred history. When King Ahab had sinned, God denounced His judgments against him, but suspended the execution, in part, to another time; assigning also the reason for deferring it: "Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house": which was accordingly executed, in the days of him son Jehoram, about fifteen years after.

2. It may further be considered that sometimes the best sort of men are permitted to fall a sacrifice to the rage and violence of the worst; and this either because the world is not worthy of them, or because God gives them up, that their malicious persecutors may fill up the measure of their iniquities. In either view the thing is rather a judgment of God upon the wicked who remain, than upon the righteous so taken away.

3. Supposing we were ever so certain that any person is visited for his own sins only, without any respect to the sins of his ancestors, or of any man else; yet great mistakes may be committed in conjectures made about the particular sins. We have a very remarkable instance of it in Shimei's censure upon King David.

III. To POINT OUT THE PRACTICAL USE AND APPLICATION OF THE WHOLE.

1. Let it be observed that religious and righteous men are often grievously afflicted. In which case it is most evident that, though they may and do deserve as great temporal afflictions as can be laid upon them, yet they do not deserve them more, nor so much as those worse men that escape. God, for many wise reasons, may sometimes punish good men in this life, and spare the ungodly. The sins of the former, being of a smaller size, may be purged away by temporal calamities; while the greater transgressions of the latter are reserved for an after-reckoning, a more solemn and dismal account. Good men may retain some blemishes, which want to be washed away in the baptism of afflictions. Or, God may sometimes serve the interest of His Church, and set forth the power of His grace, and the efficacy of the true religion, by the sufferings of good men; which is the case of martyrs or confessors who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake.

2. Suppose we certainly knew that any person who is under trouble, or who has remarkably suffered, and died by the hand of God, had been a wicked and ungodly man; yet we cannot justly conclude, that he was at all worse than many who had not so suffered. For in some cases it may be an argument rather in his favour, to prove that he was not so bad as others. First, I observe, that in some cases the afflictions which a bad man suffers may be an argument in his favour, as affording a probable presumption that he is not so bad, but rather better, than those who escape. Now, I say, when God punishes a sinner in such a way as affects not his life, with a view to his amendment (whether it be by extreme poverty or disgrace, or bodily hurts or diseases, or whatever else it be), in these cases it may serve for an argument in his favour, to prove that he is somewhat better than many others that are spared. For God, who sees into the hearts of all men, may know what effect His visitation will have upon him; and may therefore mercifully mark him out for sufferings, as foreseeing of what use they will be towards the bringing him to a sense of his sins and to be a serious repentance: whereas others, who are more hardened in their vices and follies, He may totally reject as past cure; and so may let them go on and prosper for a time, until death comes and brings them a summons to a higher and more dreadful visitation. But here, perhaps, you might ask, Why should such or such sinners be singled out for examples rather than others, and refused the privilege of a longer time to repent in, if they were not greater and more grievous sinners than the rest? To which I answer: First, supposing them to have been all equally guilty (which was indeed the supposition I have proceeded upon), yet it might be necessary to cut off some, and some rather than all; and, in such a case, God might choose to single out such as He saw proper to animadvert upon, while His mercy is free to pass by others. But further, it should be considered that those who are spared, except they repent, are in a worse condition than those who have already suffered; their judgment is respited only, and deferred for a time, to fall the heavier at the last. So that, though they have some favour shown them, in being spared so long, they have the more to account for; and, without repentance, will at length pay dear for their privilege. But, I must add thirdly, that, supposing the offenders not to be equally guilty, yet God may, if He pleases, and very justly too, cut off the best first, and spare the worst, for two very plain reasons: one, because the best may sufficiently deserve it, and God may do as He pleases. The other, because that, if it were His constant method always to take vengeance upon the worst first, many would be thereby encouraged to go on in their sins, as long as they should imagine there were yet any men left alive more wicked than themselves.

(D. Waterland, D. D.)

In the days of Whitfield, Thorpe, one of his most violent opponents, and three others, laid a wager who could best imitate and ridicule Whitfield's preaching. Each was to open the Bible at random, and preach an extempore sermon from the first verse that presented itself. Thorpe's three competitors each went through the game with impious buffoonery. Then, stepping upon the table, Thorpe exclaimed, "I shall beat you all." They gave him the Bible, and by God's inscrutable providence, his eye fell first upon this verse, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." He read the words, but the sword of the Spirit went through his soul in a moment, and he preached as one who scarce knew what he said. The hand of God laid hold upon him, and, intending to mock, he could only fear and tremble. When he descended from the table a profound silence reigned in the company, and not one word was said concerning the wager. Thorpe instantly withdrew; and after a season of the deepest distress, passed into the full light of the gospel, and became a most successful preacher of its grace.

That father who sees his son tottering toward the brink of a precipice, and, as he sees him, cries out sharply, "Stop, stop!" — does not that father love his son? That tender mother who sees her infant on the point of eating some poisonous berry, and cries out sharply, "Stop, stop I put it down!" — does not that mother love that child? It is indifference that lets people alone, and allows them to go on every one in his own way. It is love, tender love, that warns and raises the cry of alarm. The cry of "Fire! fire!" at midnight, may sometimes startle a man out of his sleep, rudely, harshly, unpleasantly. But who would complain if that cry was the means of saving his life? The words, "Except ye repent, ye shall all perish," may seem at first sight stern and severe. But they are words of love, and may be the means of delivering precious souls from hell.

(Bishop Ryle.)

There are those who will not come into God's kingdom unless they can come as Dante went into paradise — by going through hell. They wish to walk over the burning marl, and to snuff the sulphurous air. If a man has done wrong, his own thoughts should turn him to reparation; but if they do not, the first intimation from the injured friend should suffice.

(H. W. Beecher.)

1. Repentance is a difficult work, God must work it. It is not in man's power (2 Timothy 2:25). And He peradventure will give it, no man is certain of it. It is a supernatural grace not only above nature corrupted, but nature created; for man in innocency had no need of it.

2. It is a necessary work. Our Saviour before showed the necessity of it — "Except you repent, you shall all perish" (vers. 3, 5). So Matthew 3:10. Turn or burn, there is no remedy.

3. And it is a most excellent grace. A fair daughter of a foul mother. She looks backward, and moves forward; is herself a dark cloud, yet brings a fair sunshine. Is this a riddle to you? I will read it. Sin is the mother, repentance is the daughter, the mother is black and ugly, the daughter fair and lovely: God is the Father of repentance, and He could never endure the mother sin, but hates her society; being born, she slew her mother, for by repentance sin is slain, and in so doing God doth bless her; she no sooner receives breath, but she cries for pardon and forgiveness. Miracles she works. The blind eyes are by her made to see the filthiness of sin; the deaf ear she causeth to hear the word of truth, the dumb lips to cry out for grace, and the heart that was dead, becomes now alive to God, and the devil that ruled in it is now expelled. She looks backward to sins past, and is humbled for them, yet she moves forward to holiness and perfection. In short, repentance is herself cloudy, and made up of sadness, yet everlasting joy and happiness doth attend it.

(N. Rogers.)

Or those eighteen.
It is probably in part the cause, and partly the effect, of the idea of gloom and sadness that we are far too apt to associate with religion, that we regard God so much as if He were only the sender of evil and not of good, as if He indeed sent the dark cloud that occasionally casts its shadow across our path, but had no concern with the bright and gladsome sunshine that habitually enlivens it. Judge for yourselves. Suppose that some being that knew nothing of God were to become an inmate of one of our dwellings, and were to derive all his knowledge of Him from our conversation, is not the probability that he would first and oftenest hear His name mentioned in connection with some calamity, and that he would form the idea that we regarded Him as some mysterious power who had to do only with sickness, and death, and funerals? Now, it is doubtless well that we should recognize the hand of God in the evils that befal us; and a most blessed thing it is that we can resort to Him in the day of sore distress, when our hearts are ready to sink within us, and we feel that all others than He are miserable comforters; but surely it is not well that we should shut Him out from our thoughts when all goes well with us. We treat God very much as an unkind husband treats his wife, giving her the blame of all that goes amiss in the domestic affairs, forgetting that it is to her prudence and good management that he is indebted for innumerable and often unthought of comforts. Another misconception into which we habitually fall respecting the Divine Providence is to think of it as only having to do with the great and striking events of our lives, and not with the daily and hourly occurrences, which are individually small and scarcely thought of, but which, in the aggregate, make up very nearly the whole of our lives. It may have happened to some of us to be delivered from great and imminent danger, in circumstances in which it was almost impossible to avoid recognizing the finger of God; and it is well if we have felt due gratitude for such a deliverance. But if we viewed the matter aright, ought we Hot constantly to be filled with gratitude to Him for keeping us from falling into danger? Is the continuance of health not as great and as special a blessing as the recovery from sickness? When some harrowing calamity occurs in our neighbourhood, we feel that those who have been in the midst of it, and who have escaped unscathed, have a laud call addressed to them for thankfulness and praise; but does it ever occur to us, that if there be any difference, the call is still louder to us for gratitude, because we have been kept out of the danger itself? Depend upon it, that for one great event in our lives in which we see the hand of God's providence visibly at work, there are ten thousand small events in which it is not less really, though less manifestly, at work. It was a received maxim amongst a particular sect of the old heathen philosophers, that Jupiter had no leisure to attend to small affairs; but it is our blessed privilege to know regarding Jehovah, that, whilst He counts the number of the stars, and calls them all by their names, He superintends the fall of every raindrop, and directs the course of every sun-ray, and clothes the lilies of the field with glory, and feeds the young ravens when they cry to Him; that, whilst He rules over the destinies of states and empires, He watches over the flight of every sparrow, and numbers the very hairs on the heads of His people.

(T. Smith, D. D.)

I. THE WRONG USE WHICH MEN ARE APT TO MAKE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY AND SIGNAL JUDGMENTS OF GOD UPON OTHERS; AND THAT IS, TO BE UNCHARITABLE AND CENSORIOUS TOWARDS OTHERS, WHICH IS COMMONLY CONSEQUENT UPON A GROSS AND STUPID NEGLECT OF OURSELVES. For men do not usually entertain and cherish this censorious humour for its own sake, but in order to some farther end; they are not so uncharitable merely out of spite and malice to others, but out of self-flattery and a fond affection to themselves. This makes them forward to represent others to all the disadvantage that may be, and to render them as bad as they can, that they themselves may appear less evil in their own eyes, and may have a colour to set off themselves by the comparison. It is the nature of guilt to flee from itself, and to use all possible art to hide and lessen it.

II. MORE PARTICULARLY CONSIDER SOME OF THE RASH CONCLUSIONS WHICH MEN ARE APT TO DRAW FROM THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD UPON OTHERS, WHETHER UPON PUBLIC SOCIETIES AND COMMUNITIES OF MEN, OR UPON PARTICULAR PERSONS.

1. It is rash, where there is no Divine revelation in the case, to be peremptory as to the particular sin or kind of it; so as to say, that for such a sin God sent such a judgment upon a particular person, or upon a company of men, unless the judgment be a natural effect and consequent of such a sin; as, if a drunken man die of a surfeit, or a lewd person of a disease that is the proper effect of such a vice, or if the punishment ordained by law for such a crime overtake the offender; in these and such-like cases, it is neither rash nor uncharitable to say, such a mischief befel a man for such a "fault; because such an evil is evidently the effect of such a sin: but in other cases, peremptorily to conclude is great rashness. Thus the heathens of old laid all those fearful judgments of God, which fell upon the Roman empire in the first ages of Christianity, upon the Christians, as if they had been sent by God on purpose to testify His displeasure against that new sect of religion. And thus every party deals with those that are opposite to them, out of a fond persuasion that God is like themselves, and that He cannot but hate those whom they hate, and punish those whom they would punish, if the sway and government of things were permitted to them.

2. It is rash, likewise, for any man, without revelation, to conclude peremptorily, that God must needs in His judgments only have respect to some late and fresh sins, which were newly committed; and that all His arrows are only levelled against those impieties of men which are now upon the stage, and in present view. This is rash and groundless; and men herein take a measure of God by themselves, and because they are mightily affected with the present, and sensible of a fresh provocation, and want to revenge themselves while the heat is upon them, therefore they think God must do so too. But there is nothing occasions more mistakes in the world about God and His providence than to bring Him to our standard, and to measure His thoughts by our thoughts, and the ways and methods of His providence by our ways. Justice in God is a wise, and calm, and steady principle, which, as to the time and circumstances of its exercise, is regulated by His wisdom.

3. It is rash to conclude from little circumstances of judgments, or some fanciful parallel betwixt the sin and the punishment, what sinners, and what persons in particular, God designed to punish by such a calamity. There is scarce anything betrays men more to rash and ungrounded censures and determinations concerning the judgments of God, than a superstitious observation of some little circumstances belonging to them, and a conceit of a seeming parallel between such a sin and such a judgment. In the beginning of the Reformation, when Zuinglius was slain in a battle by the papists, and his body burnt, his heart was found entire in the ashes; from whence (saith the historian) his enemies concluded the obdurateness of his heart; but his friends, the firmness and sincerity of it in the true religion. Both these censures seem to be built upon the same ground of fancy and imagination: but it is a wise and well-grounded observation which Thuanus, the historian (who was himself of the Roman communion), makes upon it — "Thus" (says he) "men's minds being prejudiced beforehand by love or hatred (as it commonly falls out in differences of religion), each party superstitiously interprets the little circumstances of every event in favour of itself." Everything hath two handles; and a good wit and a strong imagination may find something in every judgment, whereby he may, with some appearance of reason, turn the cause of the judgment upon his adversary. Fancy is an endless thing; and if we will go this way to work, then he that hath the best wit is like to be the best interpreter of God's judgments.

4. It is rash, likewise, to determine anything concerning the end and consequence of God's judgments.

5. And lastly, It is rashness to determine that those persons, or that part of the community upon which the judgments of God do particularly fall, are greater sinners than the rest who are untouched by it. And this is the very case our Saviour instanceth here in the text. And this brings me to the —

III. Third particular I proposed, which was to show HOW UNREASONABLE IT IS FOR MEN TO DRAW ANY SUCH UNCHARITABLE CONCLUSIONS FROM THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD UPON OTHERS, THAT THEY ARE GREATER SINNERS THAN OTHERS; AND LIKEWISE, HOW FOOLISH IT IS FROM HENCE TO TAKE ANY COMFORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO OURSELVES THAT BECAUSE WE ESCAPE THOSE CALAMITIES WHICH HAVE BEFALLEN OTHERS, THEREFORE WE ARE BETTER THAN THEY. Our Saviour vehemently denies that either of these conclusions can justly be made from the remarkable judgments of God which befall others and pass by us — "I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

1. It is very unreasonable for men to draw any such uncharitable conclusions concerning others, that because the judgments of God fall upon them, that therefore they are greater sinners than others. For —(1) What do we know but that God may inflict those evils upon those particular persons for secret ends and reasons, only known to His own infinite wisdom, and fit to be concealed from us? What do we know but He may afflict such a person in a remarkable manner, purely in the use of His sovereignty, without any special respect to the sins of such a person as being greater than the sins of other men; but yet for some great end, very worthy of His wisdom and goodness?(2) What do we know but that God may send these calamities upon some particular persons in mercy to the generality; and upon some particular places in a nation out of kindness to the whole? It is foolish likewise to take any comfort and encouragement to ourselves that, because we have escaped those sore judgments which have befallen others, therefore we are better than they are; for (as I have shown) these judgments do not necessarily import that those upon whom they fall are greater sinners, and that those who escape them are not so: but suppose it true, that they were greater sinners than we are, for any man from hence to take encouragement to himself to continue in sin, is as if, from the severe punishment which is inflicted upon a traitor, a man should encourage himself in felony; both these sorts of criminals are by the law in danger of death, only the circumstances of death are in one case more severe and terrible than in the other; but he that from hence encourageth himself in felony, reasons very ill, because he argues against his own life. The only prudent inference that can be made, is, not to come within the danger of the law, which punisheth all crimes, though not with equal severity. Thus I have done with the filet thing I propounded to speak to from these words, viz.: The wrong use which too many are apt to make of the signal and extraordinary judgments of God upon others. I proceed to the second thing I observed in the text, viz.: The right use we should make of the judgments of God upon others; and that is, to reflect upon our own sins, and to repent of them, lest a like or greater judgment overtake us. This our Saviour tells us in the next words, "But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." I shall only draw an inference or two from what I have already discoursed upon these two heads.

1. Let us adore the judgments of God, and instead of searching into the particular reasons and ends of them, let us say with St. Paul (Romans 11:33).

2. Let us not be rash in our censures and determinations concerning the judgments of God upon others; let us not wade beyond our depth into the secrets of God: for "who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?"

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

I. THE CONTRADICTION OF A GREAT ERROR IN JUDGMENT. Our blessed Redeemer here teaches us by example to seize upon the events which transpire around us, and to turn them to the improvement of those who hear of them. Some ungenerous Jews informed Him of the barbarous and impious way in which Pilate had taken vengeance upon some Galileans, "mingling their blood with their sacrifices"; in reply to whom Jesus referred them to another case, not of Galileans, but of "dwellers at Jerusalem," not by the hands of man, but by the hand of God; that from these two together He might draw two very important lessons.

1. The accident which befell those eighteen. They were buried alive beneath the ruins of a falling tower. A melancholy end! Death, come at what time and in what form it may, is dreadful, except to those who by grace are raised above the fear of it — a very few. The approach of it is most appalling to human nature. It is not natural to man to die; it is no part of the original constitution of his being; and nothing can reconcile most men to it. And it becomes still more revolting as it is aggravated by circumstances not common.

2. The inference drawn from this accident. The Jews argued that their sufferings were the proof of their sins; that their rare doom was evidence of their rare guilt. This was a common notion among them; and there was some reason in it, for if left to argue out our own principles, without information or experience, we should conclude that God would always reward men according to their deserts, and that, as all suffering is the offspring of sin, the one would be proportioned to the other, so that the amount of one would indicate the amount of the other. This notion was greatly confirmed in the mind of the Jew by the peculiar government which God exercised as the King of Israel, under which His providence did often indicate His pleasure or displeasure, dispensing present blessings and curses according to His promises and threatenings by Moses. And though this was with the nation rather than with individuals, there were on record in their Scriptures particular instances of evident reward both of evil and good which led them to make the general rule. We, in the same way, knowing that "the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but He blesseth the habitation of the just," are apt to come to their conclusion, and to regard the death of those who perish miserably as a marked punishment. Therefore we must ponder the third thought in the text —

3. The denial which our Lord gives to this inference. We are Dot expressly told what was the intention of those who related to Jesus the cruel assault of Pilate upon the Galileans at the very altar of God. But we can gather it from the answer of the Great Teacher, which is evidently not the answer that they desired. He plainly showed their supposition to be that which I have assumed, by His direct contradiction of it. "Suppose ye," He said (meaning'" Ye suppose ") "that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay " — which He confirmed by the parallel question and answer in our text. And if there were any triumph of party spirit in these bearers of evil tidings, Jesus took it away well by thus turning their attention from the despised Galileans to their fellow-citizens — teaching them that if the inference were just in the one case it would be so in the other, yet with Divine impartiality denying it in both. And this forbids all to draw such an inference, even in thought. Which prohibition let me strengthen by a fourth consideration —

4. The reasons which there are against such conclusions. It ought to be enough to know that the principle upon which they are founded is often false, and that it is not in our power to ascertain whether it be true or false in most cases. Yet I would deepen the impression by reminding you that such inferences are apt to harden our feelings and take away our pity — a great evil for us. We cannot but have more sympathy with an innocent sufferer than with one who is guilty; yet should human misery in every form and in any man at once awaken our unfeigned and generous compassion, and keep this alive as long as it lasts.

II. THE SUGGESTION OF A MOST IMPORTANT PERSONAL THOUGHT. Some might suppose from the line of argument which I have now followed that I do not believe in the special providence of God (though I have really asserted it), and ask, "Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" or if not, does He act without reason? Then I reply, that my unwavering faith is, that whether there be good or evil done in this way, it is the Lord's doing; but persuaded that every event which transpires is the appointment of His providence, I perceive also that He does not make His appointments known to us to gratify our curiosity or to justify our censures; "for He giveth not account of any of His matters," not willing that we should judge His servants in the present state of our ignorance. Moreover, I have followed, not the dictate of my own mind, but the course indicated in the text, the great object of which is to teach us to consider ourselves rather that to censure ethers; for in it Jesus says, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Awful as was their end, such an end awaits you if you avert it not. In which saying there are three things worthy of notice.

1. The solemnity of this warning. The catastrophe to which our Lord referred was both instant and terrible; and it was the type of that which befel the hapless multitudes dwelling in Jerusalem at the time of its utter destruction. We tremble at the tale, and should have grown sick and faint at the sight, like so many stout men who witnessed it. And does any such doom await any among us? Many, ay, all, but for the grace of God.

2. The reasonableness of this warning. Whether we see it or not, there is reason in everything that God does, and in everything that Christ says. In the last great day, however, the reason shall be evident why some perish and others are preserved; all men shall discern it. It is intimated in our text; they will perish who would not repent, though space was given them for repentance. But where is the necessity for this? One short word is the answer — Sin.

3. The universality of this warning.

(J. Williams.)

I. Now, first, let us inquire what are those FALSE CONCLUSIONS which men are apt to draw from the stirring and startling events of providence.

1. The first feeling in the mind of man, when God sends afflictive dispensations, is to lose sight of Divine providence altogether. This is to drive God out of His own world — to refer the thing altogether to second causes. "Oh! it was an accident; it was some chance event; it was some unfortunate circumstance; or it was something which occurred from carelessness, want of watchfulness, want of circumspection, want of foresight and provision"; forgetting a Divine hand, losing sight of an almighty Providence.

2. And this is the second remark I have to make — that when the event which occurs is so marked and peculiar that man cannot altogether lose sight of Divine providence or of the Divine hand, he then is disposed to attribute some special guilt or some special misfortune to the sufferers themselves. He tries to find out some particular circumstances in the case which has occurred that may apply peculiarly and expressly to the parties concerned.

II. But now I come, in the second place, to inquire into those SOLID AND IMPORTANT LESSONS which these events are really designed to teach us.

1. Now, of the lessons which this solemn event is intended to teach, the first is this — that we are all standing on the brink of an eternal world. Beloved brethren, it does not require any mighty effort of Jehovah, any vast convulsion of nature, to destroy us or to carry us out of the world. A single spark will do it; a little smouldering spark getting amongst combustible matter, or thrown into any other circumstances in which these accidents by fire occur, is a sufficient agent in the hand of your God to destroy life. A little disorder in any part of the animal frame can do the same. The air you breathe is impregnated with disease. The very ground on which you walk may prove your death. A fall, a stumble — a thousand minute accidents — may kill you.

2. This event reminds us of the punishment due to sin.

3. A loud and most solemn call to repentance.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

Links
Luke 13:1 NIV
Luke 13:1 NLT
Luke 13:1 ESV
Luke 13:1 NASB
Luke 13:1 KJV

Luke 13:1 Bible Apps
Luke 13:1 Parallel
Luke 13:1 Biblia Paralela
Luke 13:1 Chinese Bible
Luke 13:1 French Bible
Luke 13:1 German Bible

Luke 13:1 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Luke 12:59
Top of Page
Top of Page