Luke 13, 3. (and 6.)—Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
These are among the most familiar words of Scripture, and among those most frequently employed to rouse the consciences of the impenitent. They are so full of meaning, that even the most commonplace and superficial exposition of the sentence must convey enough to fill the mind and agitate the heart of one who has been really awakened. There is, however, a peculiar point and pregnancy of import in the 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 in the short sentence; "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, i. e., 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.
The only way to get a full view of this deep and varied import, is by looking at the text in its connection, which may serve at the same time, as a single but remarkable example, to illustrate the importance of deriving our instructions from the Scripture in its integrity and continuity, and not from certain salient points, which frequent handling has made sharp and bright, but at the same time often put into a false position with respect to that by which they are connected, and without which they cannot be duly appreciated or even correctly understood.
during our Lord's last journey to Jerusalem, of which this part of Luke contains a full and deeply interesting narrative, his mind seems to have been filled with sad forebodings of the fearful doom impending over Israel. After warning his disciples and exhorting them to watchfulness, by various striking parables and figurative illustrations, he turned, on one occasion, to the multitude who were present, and, addressing them as representatives of the nation at large, upbraided their stupidity and insensibility, in so sagaciously anticipating changes of the weather by indications gathered from experience, while even the most solemn premonitions of approaching moral changes and catastrophes escaped their notice. "When ye see a cloud rise out of the west," i. e., from the Mediterranean Sea, "straightway ye say, there cometh a shower," or rather a storm of rain, "and so it is," for these were not mere random guesses or fanciful prognostications, but the fruit of long-continued and repeated observation. "And when ye see the south wind blow," from the direction of the great Arabian wilderness, "ye say, there will be heat, and it cometh to pass." The same observant and sagacious faculties, applied to things of infinitely greater moment, might have convinced them that there were storms and heats at hand, of which they were at present wholly unsuspicious. This absorption in mere outward interests and changes, to the neglect of inward spiritual things, is the hypocrisy with which our Saviour here reproaches them. "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern the signs of this time?" the prognostics of momentous revolution, with which that most eventful period of history was crowded.
Without reckoning any thing purely preternatural which we find recorded by contemporary writers, that solemn interval, extending from the advent to the downfall of Jerusalem, was full of strange occurrences, all showing that Jehovah had, according to his prophecy, begun to shake the nations. Yet of these exciting and alarming symptoms, the contemporaries of our Saviour took so little note, that it was only by explicit, or at least by solemn warning that he could bring these fearful futurities before their minds. No wonder that, impatient of this strange judicial blindness, he exclaimed, "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right." Will you apprehend no evil, unless I predict it in so many words? This he would not do, but he apprised them indirectly of their danger, by comparing their condition to that of one against whom his neighbour has a righteous quarrel, and who is just about to be arraigned before the judgment seat, without any prospect but of condemnation, and whose only hope is therefore in a speedy compromise and reconciliation, in default of which the law must have its course, until the last farthing of the debt is paid.
This illustration, drawn from an incident of real life, which comes home, with peculiar force, to the business and bosoms of the mass of men in every civilized community, appears to have produced at least so much effect upon the feelings of some hearers as to turn their thoughts towards strange and startling casualties, as tokens of divine displeasure, not without a secret wish to understand and represent them as denoting that displeasure, towards the few and not the many, towards their neighbours, not themselves. With some such feeling, certain persons present in the multitude related to our Saviour a revolting incident, of which they had probably just heard, a massacre of Galileans by the cowardly but sanguinary Eoman procurator, Pontius Pilate, at the very altar, so that their blood might be said to have been "mingled with their sacrifices." That God should have abandoned them to heathen cruelty in that most sacred of asylums where, if anywhere, they might have hoped for his protection, did indeed look like a terrible judicial visitation, and it may naturally be supposed that they who told and they who heard it, while they shuddered at the sacrilegious murder, were disposed to say within themselves, " Yet surely they must have been atrocious sinners, to be given up to such a fate!"
Among the hearers there was one, however, who felt no sympathy with this self-righteous and uncharitable judgment; whose mind was free from all confusion, and his feelings from all bias; who saw at once the truth of the whole case, and its secret effect upon the minds of those around him; and who hastened, with his usual benevolent severity, to check the fermentation of insidious error, and to turn the thoughts of those who had embraced it in upon themselves. Instead of chiming in with what appeared to be a pious recognition of God's justice in the punishment of sinners, our Saviour tears with a relentless hand the mask from the secret workings of his hearers' hearts, and forces them at once upon their own reluctant sight by what seems to be a simple and unstudied answer, but in whose simplicity there was a sting for many a hitherto invulnerable conscience. "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered these things?" It was no doubt to his Galilean hearers that he especially addressed himself. It was no doubt from them that this report of Pilate's conduct to their countrymen proceeded. Hence the peculiar force of our Lord's answer to his own searching question: "I tell you nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Not contented with this startling contradiction of their secret thoughts, he cites another case himself, also perhaps of recent date, and vastly stronger in appearance as a ground for the opinion which he meant to demolish, because one in which the hand of God himself was visible directly, without any intervention of a wicked human instrument, or any consequent confusion of this agent's sin with God's most righteous retributions; a case in which a number of lives had been lost by a sudden providential casualty: "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men dwelling in Jerusalem?" Having put the first unanswerable question to his Galilean hearers, he puts this to the Jerusalemites, still more self-righteous, and still more apt, it may be, to imagine, that in this case, if in any, God had drawn a broad line of distinction between them and these atrocious sinners, whom he not only suffered to perish, but destroyed, as it were, with his own hand. Yes, they might have said, if they had spoken their whole heart, we do think that they were more guilty than the rest of us, and we think so on the authority of God himself, who has spared us, even in the act of destroying them. But whether uttered or suppressed, this interpretation of God's judgments meets the same indignant contradiction as before, and the same unexpected introversion of the sentence upon those who had pronounced it: "I tell you nay, but except ye repent,"—yes, you, of Jerusalem, no less than these despised Galileans, "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
There is something so paradoxical in this repeated contradiction of what seems to be a plausible and pious sentiment, that a correct apprehension of the latent error, and of the truth which our Saviour, with such emphasis, opposes to it, may serve not only to vindicate the truth of this authoritative declaration, and its perfect consistency with all God's attributes and all his acts, so far as either can be known by us, but also to correct the same insidious error, if it should make its way into our own minds, or should now be lying hid there under some specious pretext of hostility to sin, and zeal for God's vindicatory justice.
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 uersal 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 these providential scourges. In all this, the popular judgment is according to the truth. The miseries which we witness or experience are but so many memorials
"Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe."
In the recognition and assertion of this great truth, there is no fear of excess. The fact is one which cannot be exaggerated, and ought not to be extenuated, much less dissembled or denied. Sin is the ultimate and uersal source of sorrow, and all God's providential visitations are unequivocal signs of his displeasure against sin. •
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. Not only in reference to the sum total of man's sufferings, but in reference to every pang, it may be said, with truth and certainty, that sin has been at work, that this is the natural and necessary consequence of sin, and that not of sin as an abstraction, nor of sin as the common undivided heritage of Adam's offspring, but of sin as the property and character of individual responsible agents. In other words, 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. The only exception to tins general statement, which the world has ever seen, in reality confirms it. Christ was beyond comparison the greatest sufferer of our race; yet Christ was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." But his sufferings wore vicarious; he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. This, which is one of the great fundamental doctrines of the Bible, while it shows, on the one hand, the indissoluble connection between sin and suffering, shows, on the other, how the greatest sufferer could be free from sin, although in every case but this, the least sufferer must be a sinner. We need feel no hesitation, therefore, in asserting either of these two propositions: 1, that all suffering is the fruit of sin; .and, 2, that every 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 jmd charities appear to cry aloud, and so intense is the reaction in some minds, that they will not even listen to the explanation, which may nevertheless be given, and which I will endeavour to give now.
4. This feeling of repugnance to the doctrine now in question, 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 authors 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. Here again the feeling is not only natural, but in its principle a just one, yet entirely misdirected under the influence of a second error with respect to the doctrine of the Bible on the subject. The misconception lies in the confounding of the general propositions, which have been already stated and affirmed; 1, that all suffering is the penal consequence of sin, and 2, that every individual sufferer is a sinner, with the very different proposition, 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 judgments seem to fall are thereby proved to be extraordinary sinners. These doctrines are not only quite distinct from those before propounded; they do not even follow from them as logical deductions. They may be consistently, and actually are repudiated and abjured by those who steadfastly maintain, that all suffering is from sin, and that all sufferers are sinners. The same mistake is palpable enough, and therefore easily avoided, when confined to matters of the present life, or questions of mere temporal morality. If men would be as rational and candid in their judgments of spiritual matters, as they often are in those pertaining to this world, there would be less disposition to reject important doctrines of religion on account of their abuse or the unauthorised additions made to them.
6. The effect of this last error is the more pernicious, and the cure of it more diflicult, 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. There has in all ages been a disposition to regard remarkable calamities as providential judgments on particular offences, and a morbid curiosity in tracing the. connection between such crimes and such punishments. The existence of such a disposition in the human heart, and the plausibility with which it can defend itself by a confident appeal to undisputed facts, and to undisputed principles of morals, have never been more forcibly and fully set forth, or more pointedly and solemnly rebuked than in the book of Job, one grand design of which, to say the least, is to expose this error and refute it. That it still existed in the minds of those to whom our Lord addressed the language of the text is obvious enough, and its continued existence at the present day is, alas, no less so. It may not now be pushed to the extreme reached by some of Christ's disciples, when they " asked him, saying, Lord, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" But it exists and operates, and 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. And the more certain and important the truth thus mistaken or abused, the more imperative the need of caution, lest, while we gather up the tares, we root up also the wheat with them. In the case before us this necessity has not been always practically recognized by those who have undertaken to vindicate the ways of God to man, but who, in consequence of this neglect, have verified the proverb, that the remedy is sometimes worse than the disease. They, for example, who would guard against the error now in question by denying a particular providence, are not only chargeable with wilfully receding from the grcmnd of Christianity to that of heathenism, nay from the higher ground of Plato to the lower ground of Epicurus, but with making Christ himself guilty of the grossest inconsistency, forgetful that the same authoritative voice which twice said, in the case before us, " I tell you nay," had expressly taught in the foregoing context, that without God's knowledge and his leave, not a hair falls, or a lily withers, or a sparrow dies. This is one of those cases in which the simplest and apparently most childlike teachings of religion coincide with the ultimate attainments of philosophy, since no reasoning or speculation on this subject has availed to get beyond the grand yet elementary conclusion, that if there is a providence at all it must be uersal, and that 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, or at least by applying to it terms and conditions which have no propriety or truth except in reference to our own finite nature and the necessary limitations of our knowledge.
8. Another false and dangerous corrective of the error now in question—still more insidious because it approximates more nearly to the truth—is that which, admitting a particular providence and a general connection between sin and suffering, denies an}penal or judicial connection between particular providential strokes and the sins of the individual sufferer. This doctrine, when fairly stated, is opposed, not only to the word of God, but to experience and the common sense of mankind. To deny that the bloated
countenance, the trembling limbs, the decaying mind; the wasted fortune, and the blasted fame of the drunk ard 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 vis, it would argue an extreme of philosophical caution or of skeptical reserve, to hesitate to say, as the magicians said to Pharaoh, when they found themselves confronted with effects beyond the capacity of any human or created power —" This is the finger of God." It was conceivable indeed that even this might be a magical illusion, near akin though far superior to their own, and yet the evidence appears to have convinced them. So in the case supposed, it is conceivable and possible, that even such surprising correspondences may have some other cause than that which forces itself on the mind of every spectator; but it does so force itself, and does amount, in the vast majority of cases, to a conclusive proof of a direct judicial act of God's vindicatory j ustice on a flagrant and notorious sin.
Now any one such case would be sufficient to refute the doctrine that men's sufferings have nothing to do with their personal sins, in the way of penal retribution. What then, it may be asked, is the error, theoretical or practical, which Christ condemns, and against which we are warned to be forever 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? The answer to this question is a prompt and simple one, and may be stated under three particulars:
The first is, that 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. A rule which, if applied with rigid uniformity, would directly gainsay the Divine decision in the case of Job's three friends, and brand, as the chief of sinners, the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and a countless host of less conspicuous but no less patient sufferers, unknown perhaps to man, but precious in the sight of God, must needs be a precarious and uncertain test. The second answer is, that this is a matter which God has not subjected to our scrutiny. Although, in certain cases, both of common experience and extraordinary judgment, he has lifted the veil from the judicial import of his dispensations, as a timely warning to presumptuous sinners, it is still true, as a general fact, that this mysterious connection between eauses and effects, is not among the things which may lawfully and usefully excite our curiosity, but rather among those of which the Scripture says, " Secret things belong unto the Lord our God." The final cause of this reserve may perhaps be found in the third reason to be stated for abstaining from such inquisitions, to wit, that their tendency, as shown by all experience, is not so much to edify as to subvert; not so much to wean from sin, as to harden in self-righteousness, by letting this censorship of other men's sins and other men's punishment, divert our thoughts entirely from those which we commit, 01 those which we are to experience.
This brings us to the lesson taught directly in the text and context, as to the only safe and effectual corrective of the error which we have been considering. For even after men have been convinced that this censorious inquisition into the sin and punishment of others is not only unavailing but pernicious, they may still be drawn to it by natural dispositions which they cannot resist or overcome. To counteract this wayward tendency, our Saviour here employs the only efficacious method. "Without diverting the attention of his hearers from the great humiliating truth, that suffering is the fruit and penal consequence of sin, he shows them, with consummate wisdom, that it admits an application much more certain and more salutary than the one which they were accustomed or disposed to make of it. Their favourite inference from the doctrine was, that those who suffered more were greater sinners than themselves. The one which our Lord teaches them to draw, is, that if some members of the human family were thus overtaken in their sins and visited with condign punishment, the same perdition must await the rest, however long deferred by the divine forbearance. Instead of valuing themselves, because they had escaped thus far, they ought rather to assure themselves that they should not escape forever. The judgments which they saw descend on others, did not prove them to be greater sinners than themselves; they only proved that the guilt, of which they were themselves partakers, was entitled and exposed to the divine wrath, and that the course of wisdom, therefore, was to flee from the wrath to come, instead of fancying themselves to be beyond its reach or able to resist it.
This is only one out of a multitude of instances, in which our Saviour's divine wisdom is evinced by the facility and power with winch he converts a curious, or even an insidious question, into an engine of conviction. On this very same occasion, when a person in the multitude requested him to act as an umpire between him and his brother, in a matter of inheritance, our Lord took occasion, from the untimely and irrelevant request, to unmask and reprove the covetousness latent under what might seem to be a lawful and commendable assertion of one's legal rights. A little afterwards, when Peter asked him whether his injunctions of watchfulness were meant for all believers or for those who held official station—perhaps not without some complacent reference to his own position—instead of a direct reply, our Lord describes, in clear though figurative terms, the character of a faithful office-bearer in his church, leaving the application to the consciences of those who heard him. So in the case more immediately before us, instead of expressing indignation or astonishment at Pilate's cruelty, and far from coning at the secret inferences drawn by those around him from this atrocious act, and the casualty mentioned with it—to the disadvantage of the victims as compared with themselves—he teaches them to look at home—to tremble for themselves—to cease from all invidious speculation on the magnitude of other men's offences—as determined by the weight of their misfortunes or the manner of their death—and look towards the similar perdition which, in one form or another, sooner or later, awaited all involved in the same general condemnation.
Another characteristic of our Saviour's teaching, here exemplified, is, that even in his most severe denunciations, he is far from shutting up the door of mercy. By the very act of holding up repentance, or a thorough change of mind, and character, and life, as an essential, indispensable condition of escape from the destruction which he threatens, he reveals the glorious and blessed truth, that such escape is possible. The promise, "repent, and ye shall live," is wrapped up in the threatening, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
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.
This means something more than perish also; it means perish in like manner; if not with the same external tokens of perdition, with a ruin no less real, no less fearful, no less final. As addressed by Christ to the contemporary Jews, the words had a terrible significance, which they were not prepared to comprehend or to appreciate, but which received a fearful illustration from subsequent events. In less than half a century from the date of this solemn admonition, the atrocities of Pilate and the casualty of Siloam were to be repeated on a scale of horrid and terrific grandeur. The blood of thousands, in the frenzied desperation of intestine strife, was mingled with their sacrifices, not by Roman swords, but by their own; and, as the eighteen had been crushed by the fall of a single tower, so an untold multitude were to lie entombed beneath the prostrate walls of their polluted temple".
In reference to these points of resemblance, the two incidents referred to in the context, might be said to typify or symbolize the national catastrophe which was then approaching; and, in reference to the points, Christ might say to those who heard him, as representatives of Israel, if not as individuals, "Except ye repent, ye shall all Ukewise perish "—as if he had said, Except ye repent, your blood shall be mingled with your sacrifices, too; you, too, shall be crushed beneath the towers of your temple; even in reference to the mode of your destruction, "ye shall all likewise perish!"
But, even leaving out of view these outward coincidences, striking as they are, the words are full of solemn warning and instruction, not only to the old Jews, but to us, upon whom these ends of the world are come. They give a tongue and an articulate utterance to e*ery 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. Oh, my hearers, can you not hear all this, as it were, articulately uttered by the Providence of God? If you can, then the Lord Jesus Christ is saying, just as really and solemnly to you as he said to those around him eighteen centuries ago, Think ye that this or that man, overtaken in his sins, and swept away by some terrific judgment, was a sinner above all that dwell in New York or America? "I tell you nay; I tell you nay." You are yourself, perhaps, a greater sinner; you are certainly so great a sinner that, " except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," if not in the same way to the eyes of man, yet as really, as terribly, as hopelessly, as endlessly. Why should we think of measuring gradations in perdition, or of comforting ourselves that we are not so bad as others, if we perish after all? Oh, my friends, to perish is to perish, whether as the chief of sinners, or as something less. The circumstantial differences in the fate of those who perish will be lost in its essential identity. And even the momentary consolation of this difference may be denied us. When you hear of war, of famine, and of pestilence, as wasting other lands or other portions of our town, you may, perhaps, congratulate yourself that these desolating scourges are far distant; or, if any of them be approaching, that they only sweep away the refuse of society, and move beyond the precincts of the magic circle where you are yourself intrenched. Alas! so thought the people of Jerusalem and Galilee, who told our Saviour of the massacre of Pilate and the downfall of the tower in Siloam. You, like them, may be mistaken—like them, and like their fathers, in the days of Isaiah, to whom he said, "Wherefore hear the word of the Lord ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, we have made a covenant with death, and with hell are at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto ns, for we have made this our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone: a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. And your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it," &c, &c. If that consumption is again let loose upon the earth, and if it has a voice, methinks I hear it saying even now to us, Suppose ye that they who died in Ireland of famine, and in Mexico of battles, and in Asia, Europe, and America of cholera, were sinners above all who dwell in the four quarters of the earth? I tell you nay; I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish!