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some one part of it. Now, of all the parts of the service, the first lesson is perhaps that by which people profit the least. Many are the better for the second lesson, and all that it tells them about Jesus Christ. Many, it is to be hoped, are the better for the sermon. Some join in and profit by our beautiful prayers. But I am afraid that few get much good from the histories of God's judgements read to them out of the Old Testament. Now why is this? Simply because you listen to them as to wonderful stories of what befell such and such persons a long while ago, and not as to matters in which you yourselves have any interest or concern. How few ever ask themselves, when they leave the church, "What is the Flood to me? what is the burning of Sodom and Gomorrha to me? what are the plagues of Egypt to me? what are God's judgements on his chosen people to me? Why are they read to me year after year out of the book of God? What am I to learn from them? am I to apply them to myself, so as to become better by having heard them?" These are the questions which you ought to ask yourselves, after hearing the history of God's judgements read to you out of the Old Testament: and yet how few ask them!
For it is a sad mistake to fancy that these stories do not concern us. They do concern us,
and very nearly. St Paul tells us of some of them, that they were written for our instruction: shall we then remain uninstructed and unimproved by them ? Let me try to put you in the way of profiting by these terrible and righteous histories. It is with this view that I have chosen my text, the meaning of which will be clear enough, when I have read a few of the verses before it. "If God (says the apostle) spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the Flood upon the ungodly, -and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample to those that after should live ungodly,—and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds,-if God has done all this, then surely the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished."
This then is the lesson which we ought to draw from such terrible histories as those of the Flood, and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrha. On the one hand we are to learn from them, that God will not forget any godly man what
ever, but will save him amid the destruction of all around him, will watch over him, and will bring him to good. On the other hand we are to learn from them,-and this is the main point,that with the ungodly it will be otherwise,— that for them, so long as they continue in their ungodliness, there is neither mercy nor hope, but a fearful and certain looking forward to wrath and punishment at the hand of a mighty and offended God. Neither mercy is there, nor escape, for any one who does not repent and turn to God. Seeing that God did not spare his own world, the world which he had made and blessed,-seeing that he swept away all the children of Adam from the face of the earth by reason of their sin,-be ye assured, brethren, that he will not spare you, if you abide in your sins. No, there is no mercy for the obstinate and impenitent sinner. As for escape, what escape can there be from the eye and the hand of God Almighty? Whither shall the sinner go from his Spirit? or whither shall he fly from his presence? Even if he were to take the wings of the morning, and to hide himself in the uttermost parts of the sea, he would be just as much in God's hand there as in the home he was born and bred in. Though he plunged into the loneliness of the great desert, far away from the eye of man, in the midst of that desert he would hear God's voice speaking
plainly and loudly to his conscience. Believe me, it is a fearful thing for a sinner to feel himself alone with God. Some however think to escape God by taking another course, by hurrying into the midst of crowds and business,-crowds, which sooner or later will forsake them, business, which is sure to end in vanity and vexation of spirit. Others again think themselves safe, if they float along with the stream, and follow the multitude. They say within themselves, "Yes, no doubt God will punish a few great and outrageous sinners, such as murderers, and adulterers, and blasphemers. But he will never punish the millions upon millions, who go quietly along their own way, earning their bread, or making money, or following their calling, and picking up such pleasures as come across them. What though we never care or think about him, surely he will not punish us, if we do nothing worse than that." This, alas! is a very common notion: yet it could never be so, if people attended to the histories of God's judgements in the Old Testament. For in those histories we continually read of God's punishing the many, because they were sinners, and only sparing the few, because the few only were righteous. He does not single out a few here and there to make examples of, while the many are allowed to escape. It is the many, it is the multitude, who are punished; and
only the very few are saved, by an act of special mercy. Look at the Flood. How many were saved out of the whole race of man? Only Noah and seven others. All the rest of mankind, thousands upon thousands, perished fearfully and miserably in the waters. How was it with the cities of the plain? Lot was saved out of them, and his two daughters. All the rest of the inhabitants, thousands upon thousands, were consumed by the fire and brimstone. Indeed so far are numbers from screening the wicked, they rather serve to draw down the wrath of God more speedily. Had there been many Noahs, there would have been no Flood. Had there been many Lots in Sodom, Sodom would not have been destroyed. Let no man therefore comfort himself by saying, "I am not worse, I am not more careless about religion, I am not more dishonest, I am not more selfish and worldly minded, than my neighbours." I dare say there were many in Noah's time, who were every whit as good as their neighbours. Did that save them? They and their neighbours all perished together. So too will it be in the last day. Many perhaps may then plead before the judgement-seat of Christ, "We only did as others did; we were as good as our neighbours." But is this an excuse that our Judge will listen to? He will condemu all such per