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to me, as tending to second my urgent exhortations, the sudden fate of those unhappy persons whom Pilate's sword hath abruptly cut off from life, and sent, unawares, to appear in the presence of the eternal Judge; your minds are wholly taken up by this act of atrocity; perhaps even the harsh party spirit which animates you against these sons of Israel, born under a different government and in a different clime from your own, leads you to regard their extermination rather as a just judgment of God than as a martyrdom : But, I tell you again, have regard to yourselves; think seriously of your repentance; and look upon events such as these in the light of warnings from above, calculated to engage you earnestly in the work of salvation. Do not imagine, that these Galileans, or those eighteen, were sinners above all the Galileans, above all the dwellers in Jerusalem :- I tell you, nay: you all are sinners, all guilty; you all need to be converted; and ye yourselves who hear me, I have not ceased to declare to you, that, 'UNLESS YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH;' and in the same manner as they perished for ever, as to this world, shall ye perish for ever, as to the world to come. Place, therefore, less confidence in the mere name of Jews; for I make known to you, that he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; and that “ verily, verily, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'”—
O, my soul !-do thou, therefore, become serious and thoughtful whilst thou art contemplating the dispensations of thy God;-and, whilst the children of this world, absorbed by the din of society, and by the turmoil of earthly things, turn their attention to those dispensations, only for the sake of deriving from them a passing amusement, or of forming harsh and hasty, or, at the best, vain conclusions, respecting the instruments or the victims of them,—do thou, my soul, for thy part, call up thy profoundest thoughts in the presence of thy God, and enter upon a severe and solemn self-examination. Think that the word of Christ is this day preached in Jerusalem ; turn thy thoughts to eternity, and begin by judging thine own self. Art thou prepared ?-Thou hast just witnessed beside thee some awful stroke of the Almighty ;-a violent and sudden death,—the untimely loss of a being tenderly beloved, who has just been called away from life, at the period of hope and of confidence ; groans now burst from that dwelling where yesterday were heard but the sweet accents of homefelt joy. At this calamity some weep ; others are terrified; it absorbs the minds of all.–And thou, my soul, hast thou prepared thy 'reckoning ? Had I myself been found this morning lifeless, -Oh, my soul, wert thou prepared ?—Thou art upon the brink of eternity; thou art but a few days from the day of Christ; there is but a breath--but a breath!-between thee and the tremendous scenes of futurity. Hast thou repented ? Is all ready? Art thou prepared to meet thy God? If my sin is forgiven me, all is well; but, if I am yet in my sins, all is ill: and nothing should be allowed to call off my thoughts until I have rendered my hopes secure, and made the Saviour mine.
Let us therefore, now, My Brethren, give all our attention to this important and affecting declaration, which our Lord this day calls upon us to meditate : “ Unless YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.”
Some commentators, giving a particular emphasis to this last expression, have thought they perceived, in this threatening of our Saviour, a prophetic allusion to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem; and to the manner in which the inhabitants of that rebellious city were destined, thirty-eight years afterwards, “ to mingle their blood with their sacrifices,” and to be destroyed at once by the sword of the Romans, and under the ruins of their demolished ramparts.
We see no reason for rejecting this idea ; and we willingly admit, that this declaration of our Saviour, at the same time that it-bore a particular reference to a future judgment, might also have regard to those temporal judgments which he was shortly about to bring upon the Jewish people.
But, let us look farther; and not lose in critical researches, the precious time which we ought to employ to our edification.
A solemn appeal speaks to our souls; from the ruins of Siloë, and the blood of the Galileans, a voice proceeds, which cries : Repent ye! Our Lord calls upon us this day, to meditate the most important truth,—the fundamental truth,—of our religion.
I. In fact, My Brethren,--and we beg of you to be attentive to this observation—the assertion of the text applies generally. It addresses itself to each of you who are here present, as it addressed itself, eighteen hundred years ago, to the men of Jerusalem, -as, a hundred years hence, it will address itself to your children's children: all need repentance. Do not imagine “ that these Galileans, or those eighteen, were sinners above all the Galileans, or all the inhabitants of Jerusalem ;" do not, either, imagine, My Brethren, that all the inhabitants of Galilee, or that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, were sinners above all the inhabitants of our country, of our time, or of our city :