Mark 13:19


I. SACRED LITERATURE, LIKE NATURE, IS FULL OF HINTED TRUTH. "Truths in nature darkly join." So in Scripture. The mystic element in Daniel and Scripture generally was fully recognized by Christ.

II. PRUDENCE IN MEN IS THE REFLECTION OF PROVIDENCE IN GOD. It is the light within us. In unsettled times we must be more than usually on our guard. Keen love of truth will make the mind critical and sceptical of the talk that goes on. Let us not have to say, surprised by calamity, "We might have known this before."

III. THERE IS A METHOD AND A SELECTION IN THE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE. When the observer of physical nature finds a principle of "natural selection," he finds only the visible counterpart of a law in the kingdom of God. God, through all changes, "gathers his chosen" from the end of the land to the end of the sky.

IV. CHANGES IN THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM ARE NATURAL, AND THOSE THAT ARE NATURAL HAVE A SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE. Changes in plants visibly show forth changes in institutions. Below both is truth, is life. And as Christ is one with life and truth, his words abide. There is a moral conservation of force through all evolutions. - J.









For in those days shall be affliction.
Afflictions are God's hired labourers, to break the clods and plough the land.

(Anon.)

Trouble is often the lever in God's hand to raise us up to heaven.

(Anon.)

Has it never occurred to us when surrounded by sorrows, that they may be sent to us only for our instruction, as we darken the eyes of birds when we wish to teach them to sing?

(Jean Paul.)

The angel troubled the waters, which then cured those who stepped in; it is also Christ's manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in His wings.

(R. Sibbes.)

Tears often prove the telescope by which men see far into heaven.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Men think God is destroying them because He is tuning them. The violinist screws up the key till the tense cord sounds the concert pitch; but it is not to break it, but to use it tunefully, that he stretches the string upon the musical rack.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Men pray to be made "men in Christ Jesus," and think in some miraculous way it will be given to them; but God says, "I will try My child, and see if he is sincere;" and so He lays a burden upon him, and says, "Now stand up under it;" and asks, "Where are now thy resources?" If the ambitious ore dreads the furnace, the forge, the anvil, the rasp, and the file, it should never desire to be made a sword. Man is the iron, and God is the smith; and we are always either in the forge or on the anvil. God is shaping us for higher things.

(H. W. Beecher.)

are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions.

(Matthew Henry.)

One might explain this language on the principle of that graphic hyperbolism that pervaded, to so large an extent, the speech of all peoples. It is quite common, in many languages at least, if not in all, to say of any very extraordinary affliction, it is the greatest possible. Superlatives are often employed, when there is really no definite intention of asserting a perfectly absolute prominence. It is at the same time, however, worthy of consideration, whether there was not, in this catastrophe of the Jews, a minglement of elements, physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, which was so unique as to render the anguish, consequent on the overthrow of Jerusalem, unprecedented, and incapable of repetition. Many peoples have been vanquished. Often have surviving populations been "peeled," and scattered or led captive. Often have capital cities been stormed and sacked. But the case of the Jews was peculiar. They were convinced that they were the favourites of heaven. They regarded their capital as the "City of the Great King," and the predestined Mistress of the world. Their Temple was to them the one House of God. It could not be dispensed with in the world. Hence they expected, up to the last moment, that the Lord's arm must needs conspicuously interpose in the extremity of their necessity, to smite the beleaguering hosts and rescue the beloved place and people. When one mingles the elements of such thoughts and feelings, and their effects, with the effects of the utter social disorganization that prevailed, and consequently with the unutterable physical woes that preceded and succeeded the capture of the Temple, it is easy to see that the tribulation endured may have had an edge of agony which never was before in the history of any people, and which will never be again.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

At the siege of Jerusalem, Milman says, "Every kind feeling, love, respect, natural affection, were extinct through the all-absorbing want. Wives would snatch the last morsel from husbands, children from parents, mothers from children...If a house was closed, they supposed that eating was going on, and they burst in and squeezed the crumbs from the mouths and throats of those who were swallowing them. Old men were scourged till they surrendered the food to which their hands clung desperately. Children were seized as they hung upon the miserable morsels they had got, whirled round and dashed upon the pavement...The most loathsome and disgusting food was sold at an enormous price. They gnawed their belts and shoes. Chopped hay and shoots of trees sold at high prices."

It is worth any man's while to read the story of the destruction of Jerusalem as it is told by Josephus: it is the most harrowing of all records written by human pen; it remains the tragedy of tragedies; there never was and there never will be anything comparable to it: the people died of famine and of pestilence, and fell by thousands beneath the swords of their own countrymen. Women devoured the flesh of their own children, and men raged against each other with the fury of beasts. All ills seemed to meet in that doomed city, it was filled within with horrors and surrounded without by terrors. Portents amazed the sky both day and night. There was no escape, neither would the frenzied people accept of mercy. The city itself was the banqueting hall of death. Josephus says: "All hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devour the people by whole houses and families: the upper rooms were full of women and infants that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children, also, and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead wheresoever their misery seized them. For a time the dead were buried; but afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the wall into the valleys beneath. When Titus, on going his rounds along these valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefaction running about them, he gave a groan, and spreading out his hands to heaven, called God to witness this was not his doing."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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