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endure for ever; that if we buy a piece of land it will be called by our name long years hence ; that if we amass wealth we shall hand it down safely to our children? Of course we think we shall prosper. We say to ourselves, Tomorrow shall be as to-day, and yet more abundant.
Nothing can happen to England—is, I fear, the feeling of Englishmen. Carnal security is the national sin to which we are tempted, because we have not now for forty years felt anything like national distress; and Britain says, like Babylon of old, the lady of kingdoms to whom foreigners so often compare her—'I 'shall be a lady for ever; I am, there is none
beside me. I shall never sit as a widow, nor know the loss of children.'
What, too, if that same security and prosperity tempts us—as foreigners justly complain of us—to set our hearts on material wealth ; to believe that our life, and the life of Britain, depends on the abundance of the things which she possesses ? To say—Corn and cattle, coal and iron, house and land, shipping and rail
roads, these make up Great Britain. While she has these she will endure for ever..
Ah, my friends—to people in such a temptation, is it wonderful that a good God should send a warning unmistakeable, though only a warning; most terrible, though mercifully harmless ; a warning which says, in a voice which the dullest can hear-Endure for ever? The solid ground on which you stand cannot do that. Safe ? Nothing on earth is safe for a moment, save in the long-suffering and tender mercy of Him of whom are all things, and by whom are all things, without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground. Is the wealth of Britain, then, what she can see and handle? The towns she builds, the roads she makes, the manufactures and goods she produces ? One touch of the finger of God, and that might be all rolled into a heap of ruins, and the labour of years scattered in the dust. You trust in the sure solid earth ? You shall feel it, if but for once, reel and quiver under your feet, and learn that it is not solid at all, or sure at all; that there is nothing solid, sure, or to be
depended on, but the mercy of the living God; and that your solid seeming earth on which you build is nothing less than a mine, which may bubble, and heave, and burst beneath your feet, charged for ever with an explosive force, as much more terrible than that gunpowder which you have invented to kill each other withal, as the works of God are greater than the works of man. Safe, truly! It is of God's mercy from day to day and hour to hour that we are not consumed.
This, surely, or something like this, is what the earthquake says to us. It speaks to us most gently, and yet most awfully, of a day in which the heavens may pass away with a great noise, and the elements may melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works which are therein may be burnt up. It tells us that this is no impossible fancy: that the fires imprisoned below our feet can and may burst up, and destroy mankind and the works of man in one great catastrophe, to which the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755—when 60,000 persons were killed, crushed, drowned, or
swallowed up in a few minutes—would be a merely paltry accident. And it bids us think, as St. Peter bids us :
When therefore all these things are dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy conversation and godliness ?' What manner of persons ?
Remember that if an earthquake destroyed all England, or the whole world; if this earth on which we live crumbled to dust, and were blotted out of the number of the stars, there is one thing which earthquake, and fire, and all the forces of nature cannot destroy, and that is—the human race.
We should still be. We should still endure. Not indeed in flesh and blood : but in some state or other ; each of us the same as now, our characters, our feelings, our goodness or our badness; our immortal spirits and very selves, unchanged, ready to receive, and certain to receive, the reward of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil. Yes, we should still endure, and God and Christ would still endure. But as our Saviour, or as our Judge ? That is a very awful thought.
One day or other, sooner or later, each of us shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, stripped of all we ever had, ever saw, ever touched, ever even imagined to ourselves, alone with our own consciences, alone with our own deserts. What shall we be saying to ourselves then? - Shall we be saying—I have lost all : The world is gone—the world, in which were set all my hopes, all my wishes; the world in which were all my pleasures, all my treasures; the world, which was the only thing I cared for, though it warned me not to trust in it, as it trembled beneath my feet? But the world is gone, and now I have nothing left!
Or shall we be saying,—The world is gone? Then let it go. It was not a home. I took its good things as thankfully as I could. I took its sorrows and troubles as patiently as I could. But I have not set my heart on the world. My treasure, my riches, were not of the world. My peace was a peace which the world did not