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come up against thee, as the sea causeth his waves to come up. The Psalmist, also, in describing the majesty of God, enlarges upon this image: “He stilleth the noise of the sea, the noise of the waves, and the tumults of the people:” and in setting forth the stability of God's kingdom, in despite of all opposition, he says, “Thy throne is established, O God; thy throne is from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
, the floods have lifted up their waves. The Lord is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea."* Again, in the 17th chapter of Revelations, the 15th verse, it is thus distinctly interpreted: “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
Having thus got the meaning of the symbols, we may proceed with our subject. When the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, "the sun shall be darkened:” authority, constituted authority, in whatever hands, shall be deposed. That is the meaning of the expression: authority shall be put down, restraints no longer endured. The image of God's majesty will be effaced from off the earth, because men will not bear it. “And the moon shall not give her light.” Elsewhere it is said, “the moon shall be turned into blood.” Acts ii. 20. The path of the witnesses of God, who set forth his light-who, in the midst of that wild rejection of his authority, still image the holy majesty of God, and bear witness for Jesus, shall be turned into a scene of persecution and death.* The church shall be an especial object of hatred, because she bears the truest witness for the absent Lord, against whom there is wide-spread combination and resistance. His imaged authority in the government, whatever it may be, will be despised: and his imaged, his reflected holiness in the church, raged against and scorned. “And the stars shall fall from heaven." The minister of the church shall be driven from their charges, in connexion with authority-for heaven is here used in the same symbolical sense, as the place of the sun and the moon,—the seat of authority: and when all authority is deposed—the sun darkened, "and the moon turned into blood, the ministers of the church shall fall from their stations, in connexion with a constituted authority. “The sea and the waves roaring: The multitudes of the people, having imbibed infidel sentiments, refusing to be constrained by the authority of God, to be sanctified by the
* Psalm lxv. and xciii.
* Though I believe this to be the true interpretation, I would not be understood as excluding the possibility, or even probability of concomitant literal signs in the heavenly bodies. Of the facility with which such signs might be exhibited, we have a specimen in the supernatural darkness on the day of the crucifixion.
presence of his church, to be taught by the ministers of his gospel,-rising in ungovernable rage, throwing off all restraints, spreading consternation and panic over the face of the earth,“Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” The barrier behind whose protection the bonds of society have been hitherto preserved, and a check maintained upon the violence of the human heart, and the ragings of the impetuosity of the human character,--that salutary check which fallen men stand so desperately in need of,now broken down, and succeeded by wide-spread anarchy and desolation: “The mountains cast into the depths of the sea;”—the high places of authority merged into the chaos of the people,revolutionary madness, anarchical fury, distress of nations, perplexity, consternation and alarm,—these are the last signs; we have already seen an earnest of them in a neighbouring country, and something like the gathering of the storm in our own. France has had an awful warning,-a foretaste of the still wider desolation that shall be hereafter. There authority, as such, was deposed; the church was turned into a scene of murderous cruelty; the ministers were driven from their charges, by the wide-swelling waves of democratic violence, all things sacred were laid prostrate, the decencies of social life no longer sheltered the weak and helpless, the sanctities of domestic privacy were rifled, and all was madness, confusion and blood. God has spared for a season, and reinstated in another opportunity to hear and repent, that guilty nation: and he has warned us! Will England take warning?
Oh, my dear Brethren, this is no question of party politics. All parties are alike guilty in the sight of God, taken in their individual characters, as men count parties—all are sabbathbreakers,-all are covetous together; all seeking their own, and not the things of Christ. They are charging the gathering cloud with additional sulphureous matter, to spread wider desolation when it bursts. A stream of wickedness is going up: day by day, and sabbath after sabbath it cries to God for vengeance, and God is still patient. Christian Brethren, let your hearts' affection and earnest prayers be with the Lord, and be not afraid. Let not your heart be troubled. The widespread terror need have no terror for you. The destroyer shall not hurt you; for when these things come to pass, -when authority has no longer its stability, nor the church its respect: when the ministers of the church, the ambassadors for Jesus, shall be despised and rejected,
when outrageous violence begins to break down the mounds that hold as yet its tumultuous waves in obedience to that injunction which God has
placed on them,—"thus far shall ye go and no further,”— when they do go further, and rise and shake the basis of authority in every shape, whether of monarchy or mixed government-when laws are no longer respected-when might, physical, brutal might, shall usurp the place of right—then, in the midst of all, in the midst of this desperate, this dreadful confusion, when all that is tender and affectionate in the human heart, is liable to be rent and torn by the unprincipled violence of ruthless ruffianism,—we can look to God, and know that Jesus, who rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm, is ours,-he is our Friend, our Father, our God,--that he loves us dearly,-better than we can love ourselves, that he loves our wives, our children, and will watch over those whom we cannot protect Oh, my Brethren, put confidence in God, for this is peace, and nothing but this is peace: “then shalt thou lie down," says the wise man, "and sleep, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Thou shalt not fear violence, for thy heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” Then when these things begin to thicken,-when the cloud grows blacker, and appears ready to burst in overwhelming horrors, then look up;—for in that opening cloud your Lord shall come. In the fire, the whirlwind, and the tempest, in the crashing of all authority, deputed from the Lord, shall he himself appear; he shall resume his own authority, and the kingdoms of the earth become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ; and he shall break his enemies as a potter's vessel under a rod of iron, and establish the government, the righteous and absolute sovereignty of his saints
It was when the world, in all the boasted pride of human learning, and all the embellishments of human literature and art, was nevertheless filling up the measure of human sin; and when wide-spread idolatry, and grovelling, sensual indulgence ruled over the nations, even in the most favoured seats of intellectual cultivation and social refinement,-it was then, that Jesus came, a saviour of sinners; and when the world shall bear the same aspect towards authority as it then did towards holiness,- when it shall be as impatient of rule as it was then of virtue, when the peculiar characteristic of nations shall be rebellion-then shall the Lord come as the legitimate, the allmighty, the irresistible sovereign. “The Son of Man shall come in clouds, with power and great glory.” Then shall the visitations be poured out, and the curses shall come upon the earth, as it is described in the 6th chapter of Revelations, the 12th verse: “I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind: and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” “Every mountain," every great state; "and every island," every petty state, and all the great men of the earth merged in the waves of the destroying tumult; "and every bondman and every freeman hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” You observe not the multitudes only, as distinguished from the rulers, -but all together fall under the judgment,—the kings, the great men, the rich men, the chief captains and the mighty men, as well as bond and free; altogether, because all have sinned, the rulers in abusing their authority to licentiousness, encouraging and fostering things that should never have been introduced; or if introduced, that ought, when detected, at once to have been amended; and the people in rising up in the pride of their own strength, the boasted might of numbers; as if the essence of authority were in them, instead of being in the God who made them. On the one side is abused authority, on the other abused liberty. All will fall, and there is no security but to the members of Christ. Oh, my brethren, there is yet a time to escape,—there is time for reconciliation; there is time to leave the vortex of a wicked world and join the church of God; to give up the society and the cause of those who are neglecting his word, breaking his sabbaths, violating his commandments; who talk little about his coming, and care still less. Oh, break off from them, and though you should be obliged to transact business, and even to sit side by side with them, let it be but the outside of you that is there; keep the inner part for the Lord, and the society of the Lord's people. Be on the Lord's side resolutely. Be not ashamed to confess him now.
Now is the time to confess him, while he is absent, and to confess him even in the rebels' camp. Now is the time, while there is risk: now when it costs something to profess in sincerity and in truth. Every one will be ready to confess a triumphant king: but when to confess him is to expose yourselves to danger and to contempt, then it is, that confession denotes honesty of attachment. Hear himself: Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also, before my Father which is in heaven. And whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him
also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.*
Men and Brethren, now while waiting for the Lord's coming, believe his word, submit to his authority, honour his laws, prostrate yourselves before his throne, embracing his cross. Now is the time, all sinners as you are: “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Now he is on the mercy-seat-his blood cleanseth from all sin.
He has not yet girded the sword upon his thigh to take vengeance. waits in mercy, imploring his enemies to lay down their arms and be his friends. Oh! come, weary and heavy laden with sin, instead of vain attempts to reconcile yourselves to your burden, or to stifle all consciousness of it; come and cast it upon him. Now is the time: be ye reconciled. He waits to be gracious, and the time is short; no one can tell at what moment the voice of exhortation and of love, may be for ever silenced. Do you, indeed, believe and trust in the Lord Jesus, and in him alone. I beseech you, do not deceive yourselves. There is a state of mind most destructive and most common, where the heart is putting its real confidence in second causes, and secretly expecting more safety from some political change, than from trusting in Christ himself. Oh, that is to be political indeed, and in the worst sense: but to put undivided confidence in the Lord for protection here, as well as salvation hereafter, is to be, not political, but truly religious: while others, who disclaim politics in words, are yet leaning on the measures of men in their hearts, for all their expectations of safety for themselves, and their families, and their property.
This is not only a time for reconciliation, that the ungodly may come and give themselves up to the Lord, but a time of instruction also, that you may grow more in the knowledge of your Lord, learn more of the principles of his kingdom, be more conformed to them; that, understanding more and more what he shall be, and what he shall do, you may be more and more moulded into the character of citizens and subjects of that kingdom. Learn more of him; and while you are getting more of that instruction, both by reading the Scriptures and by remarking the movements of God's providence over the world, seek to imbibe more deeply those principles of willing submission to authority, which, however now decried, must eventually triumph. Seek to become more conformed to his mind, that you may really and instinctively delight in the sound of his chariot wheels; for that sound will be the sound of joy un
* Matt. x. 32. Mark viii. 38.