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ever calls to mind the events of last winter, whoever recollects those secret midnight burnings, which we have all seen, but which a couple of years ago no one had ever heard of, must perceive that this country is in a very dangerous state, more divided against itself, more tottering and unstable on the pinnacle of its greatness, than it has been before, either in our time, or in the time of our fathers. What can steady and preserve it but the hand of God? What can move him to stretch out that protecting hand, but the prayers and the repentance of his people?
The cup of God's anger then, to judge from appearances, is already full nearly to the brim: and every new sin adds a fresh drop to it. But God is not unmerciful, to mark the evil only. His eyes are also upon the good. It is for them, for his children, that the events of this world are disposed. It is for the sake of the wheat that the tares are spared, lest, as our Saviour says, while the tares are gathered up, the good wheat be rooted up also. Every additional ear of good wheat, every new convert to Jesus Christ, is so much added to the safety of England. Were all good, the nation would be righteous, and God's favour would rest The land would be like the garden of upon us. Eden, so that all who visited it would say, See the land which the Lord hath blessed! On the other
hand if all were evil, if the people had altogether corrupted itself, and forsaken the law of God, the land would soon be turned into a wilderness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
At present we are neither all good, nor, praised be God! all evil. But good and evil, piety and ungodliness, justice and fraud, mercy and oppression, are carrying on a mighty struggle, and dividing the people of the land. In this great war there are no neuters. Every one who is not on Christ's side, is against him. Every one therefore must choose his side. On which side will you be? I ask you, each of you, will you be on the side of Christ, which is the side of blessing? or will you be on the side of sin, which is the side of cursing? Will you be on the side of godliness, which calls down blessings upon England? or will you be on the side of wickedness, which is drawing down curses upon England? Yes, every wicked act tends to draw down a curse upon the country, and in that sense is the worst of treasons. Every good act on the contrary, every holy feeling, every true prayer, every victory over our baser appetites, every sacrifice of our will to the law of God, -every such act adds another stone to the spiritual rampart, which for so many years has surrounded and defended England. That rampart every one amongst us is either building up or pulling down.
THE BEST CHRISTIAN, THE BEST PATRIOT.
If the evil in the struggle overpower the good,and every single desertion from good to evil makes the contest harder and more desperate,-if, I say, the evil should at last overpower the good, -should the rampart of justice and holiness be overthrown, think what a deluge of wickedness will pour in and wherever wickedness makes its way, misery and woe follow at its heels. If you would avoid this misery, labour to repair the breaches in the rampart; lest the words be spoken to us, which were spoken formerly to Ezekiel, "And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none." (xxii. 30.) May such words never be spoken to our country! God grant that England may never be without men to make up the hedge, and to stand in the gap before the Lord! God grant that she may never turn away from Him who alone can make up the hedge, who alone can stand in the gap before the Lord!
LOCK AND KEY;
PROPHECY AND INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY.
2 PETER i. 19-21.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the daystar arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
THIS is a hard text to understand fully: but its general meaning is clear; and we shall have no difficulty in gathering enough from it to make a very useful lesson. St Peter had been speaking of the proofs, which he and his brother apostles had received, of our Saviour's power and greatness. He
had mentioned the wonderful proof granted them when Jesus was transfigured" in the holy mount," when they were eyewitnesses of his brightness and majesty, and heard the voice from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." After urging this great proof, as a man would, who had seen and heard such wonders, he goes on to a second proof, the proof from prophecy. Of this he says, that Christians would do well to give heed to it; for that a prophecy is like a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn. As men burn a candle during the night to give light, so was God pleased to set up the lamp of prophecy in the world, to saye mankind from being left in total darkness during the ages before the coming of Christ. This was the use of the prophecies before Christ's coming. They were designed to preserve a sense of God's goodness, and a recollection of his promises, to keep hope alive in the world, and to awaken men to the expectation of some great mercy, which God was preparing for his people, and would bring to light in due time.
But when the Sun of Righteousness had risen and chased away the darkness, the candlelight was no longer needed. Are we to suppose then, that the prophecies ceased to be of any use, when Jesus by his coming fulfilled them? They did