Amos 3:6
There is something in this interrogatory style that arrests the attention and excites inquiry. Combined as it is with bold figures of speech, it gives both vivacity and impressiveness to the prophecies of the herdsman of Tekoah.

I. THE PRESENCE OF CALAMITY. The phrase, "evil in a city," is certainly vague, but how much it may imply! How many forms of misery may be suggested by the expression! - e.g. famine, pestilence, war, riot, and faction, all are evils, and evils which do not always come singly to a community.

II. THE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE OF CALAMITY. The suggestion of the prophet is that "the Lord hath done it." We are not warranted in applying the test of our opinions to events permitted by Divine providence. It is foolish to profess ourselves able to interpret all the events, and especially all the calamities, that occur; to see God's "judgments" in all human distresses. Yet no devout mind can question that there is a very important sense in which, when evil happens to a city or a country, the Lord hath done it. The world is governed by moral laws; but the Governor is the supreme Creator of all things, the supreme Disposer of all events. Disobedience to his authority and ordinances entails suffering, privation, disaster. Men reap as they sow.

III. THE PROPHETIC WARNING OF COMING CALAMITY. The prophet was a watchman, as Ezekiel so vigorously shows us, whose office it is to recognize the approach of ill, and to give the people timely and faithful warning. The same office is still fulfilled by those who being dead yet speak, whose declarations concerning Divine government remain for the instruction of all generations. The Bible abounds with admonitions to which cities and nations will do well to give heed. And all ministers of religion are bound to explain to the people the principles of moral rule and law, of moral retribution, of repentance and reformation.

IV. THE PROPER EFFECT OF CALAMITY. The immediate result is that described in the text - fear, trembling, alarm. But the remote result, that chiefly to be desired, is the turning of men's hearts unto the Lord, and their consequent acceptance and forgiveness. - T.







Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?
The principal scope and design of the prophecy of Amos is this, — Though the Jews had by their sins provoked God to send many heavy judgments upon them, yet were they still so stupid and senseless as neither to be prevailed on by them to amend their lives, nor so much as once consider whence those judgments came. If God sent fire, plague, or famine, they regarded them as accidents, ill-will of enemies, or misfortunes. And so all God's judgments lost their designs. Even God's prophets, who were sent to correct these false notions, were despised. When God saw the disease grown desperate, and the patient not so much as enduring the sight of the physician, He awoke as a giant refreshed with wine, and to make His power known, inspired one of the herdmen of Tekoah with such knowledge as was wonderful for him, and sent him to assure them all that their sufferings were from heaven, that they were God's visitation for their sins, and that nothing but speedy repentance could prevent their ruin. As if he had said, There is the such thing as chance or fate in all your sufferings. They are all the effect of God's overruling providence, without whose knowledge and appointment not one hair falls from your head. But some, by reason of the doubtful signification of the Hebrew word evil, have made God the author of their sins.

I. First, then, WE MUST CLEAR THESE WORDS FROM THIS BLASPHEMOUS ABUSE OF THEM. When Adam sinned, he found this excuse for himself, to lay the fault upon God (Genesis 3:12). And some of his unhappy offspring have gone yet further, "and thought God altogether such an one as themselves" (Psalm 50:21). To prevent this dangerous and fundamental error, God has taken care, throughout all the Scriptures, to work in us true and proper notions of Himself, His justice, holiness, and mercy, and make us such a discovery of His own perfections as might work us up to the highest degree of holiness and virtue. To make God the author of sin is to make Him act contrary to Himself and to His own nature. Let not any one persuade you, therefore, that God is the author of evil in this sense, and by His unutterable decrees compels mankind to that which He Himself detests and hates. This indeed cannot be the meaning of Amos in this text, unless he contradicts himself, and the whole design of his prophecy. He is sent to reprove the Israelites for their sins, and to assure them that all the miseries they suffered were God's visitation.

II. Let us now consider the words of the text in their genuine and natural sense, namely, THAT THERE IS NO EVIL, NO CALAMITY OR MISERY IN A CITY OR COUNTRY WHICH GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF. Therefore, in all the judgments that befall us, we should learn to see God's hand, and humble ourselves under His visitation. For a more distinct and methodical consideration of the judgments and calamities that befall a kingdom for their sins, see —

1. That when God first made the world, He so ordered the connection and dependence of causes and effects in the whole course of it as that very many sins naturally produce mischief and sorrow to the authors of them. In open and visible judgments this is true also. Luxury and drunkenness tend to impair our health and our estates, and either hurry us untimely to our graves, or else continue us here in beggary and want, unpitied and unrelieved. Sloth and idleness clothe a man with rags (Proverbs 23. 21). All this, though the usual consequence of the order of nature, is properly ascribed to God as the author of it. The man of lusts sins against his own body. A quarrelsome temper brings a man continually into broils and dangers. The old liar gets this reward, that nobody believes in him. He that soweth discord among others must not expect to live at home in peace. And envy is the rottenness of the bones. In all these cases the punishment is the natural effect and consequence of the sin.

2. When this doth not happen, and sins are great and daring, God sometimes breaks through all the course of nature and disturbs the order of the world to make His power and His justice known, to vindicate the honour of His providence, and cast vengeance upon the sinner. Not that God hath any delight to hurry the world into confusion and destroy His own creatures; but it is sometimes necessary for God to make Himself known by the judgments which He executeth. Illustrate by cases of Flood, Sodom, Korah, Sennacherib, Belshazzar, Jerusalem, Babylon, etc. Because, in these proceedings, the Almighty is forced to break through the harmony and goodness which Him self saw in His own creation, He never makes use of them but upon great and pressing occasions, when sinners become daring and impudent, and defy God and His providence.

3. God oftentimes by His wisdom so directs and manages the natural effects of second causes, and which are produced by a heap of circum stances that seem only casual and incidental to other special ends and designs of His providence, and makes them become the executioners of His wrath against sinners. Those things which seem casual to us, cannot be so to God the author of them. God orders the common accidents of the world to proper ends and designs of His providence; and many of those evils which seem the effects only of chance are really designed by God as punishment for our sins. In the following eases God's hand more visibly appears to us.

(1)When judgments are national and public.

(2)When the calamities bear a particular relation to, and often times the very stamp and character of the sin.Then if the Lord hath at this time drawn a sword against us, let us also proclaim war against the sins which caused them; always remembering that as there is no evil in a city but from the Lord, so there is no deliverance but from Him also. Let us turn unto the Lord with all our hearts, and He will have mercy on us. Let us resolve to be religious in good earnest, and by the holiness of our lives call louder to heaven for mercies than ever our sins have done for judgments. Let God's righteousness go before us in all our actions, then shall His glory he our reward.

(John Willes, D. D.)

The well-instructed Christian will refer all events to the overruling providence of God. The text, in referring to evil, does not mean natural evil, such as blindness, disease, and death; nor moral evil, or the contrariety of men's actions. It refers particularly to social evil, social calamity.

1. Moral evil Divinely overruled. Nothing can take place without God's knowledge. But we must remember that He never suggests an unholy thought or purpose. While God leaves sinners to take such a course as their own evil hearts desire, He overrules or controls their sin for the accomplishment of His own will. Illustrate cases of Joseph, and the crucifixion of our blessed Lord.

2. But we refer to social evil Divinely inflicted, sometimes by human instruments, sometimes without. Of calamities in the community .the text speaks. It is too customary to overlook the hand of God in these things, and to confine our attention to second causes. God could keep back the ambitious desires, and curb the evil passions of sinful men, but He allows them to take the direction upon which their own wicked hearts are bent, and uses them as instruments of His wrath. This subject gives —(1) To worldly men a solemn warning.(2) To the afflicted believer this subject affords abundant consolation.

(J. G. Breay, B. A.)

By "evil" here we understand "calamities." Men may have been concerned in bringing them on; but God overrules all things for the accomplishment of His own purposes. The truth is clearly established, that the sorrows of a nation may be traced to the sins of a nation. The improvement to be made from this subject is —

I. THE DUTY OF INTERCESSION WITH GOD FOR THE REMOVAL OF NATIONAL CALAMITY. We need go no further than this prophet for a proof of the efficacy of prayer (Amos 7:1-6).

II. LABOUR AMONG MEN FOR THE PROMOTION OF NATIONAL HOLINESS. Enumerate some national sins. The advances of popery. Sabbath breaking. Infidelity, especially in literature.

III. CONFIDE IN THE PROTECTION OF GOD IN THE MIDST OF NATIONAL DANGER. If you are in Christ, you have no cause for fear. The consciousness of sinfulness will lead you to submit to personal trial as Job did. The Lord frequently makes a distinction in times of calamity between those who are His people and those who are not. Observe how Ezekiel (Ezekiel 9:4-6) describes the Lord's people. They "sigh and.cry for the sins of others." If you can see iniquity unmoved, if you see men going to destruction and the laws of God and man set at defiance, without grief, and without doing all that is in your power to stem the torrent, you see that you have not the mark of God's people, and you must perish with a careless and ungodly world.Application.

1. Acknowledge God's hand in every judgment.

2. Do all in your power to spread the knowledge of God's will.

(J. G. Breay, B. A.)

I. THE FACT THAT ALL EVIL COMES FROM THE LORD. By evil understand the evil of punishment. God cannot be the author of evil as sin. He may permit it and overrule it. Every calamity we suffer is from the hand of God. This is universally acknowledged when by calamities are meant earthquakes, tempests, hurricanes, diseases, etc. Other evils are plainly traceable to our own agency, and so the agency of God is easily ignored. Such are the diseases and poverty and wretchedness brought on by intemperance or idleness. But while we admit human agency and human guilt in many of the calamities which we suffer, we ought, at the same time, to acknowledge the hand of God in them all. They all come with His knowledge; they all come by His permission; they all come by His appointment. As all these calamities, of a public character, which come immediately from the hands of men, are to be traced to the hand of God, so also may those calamities which come upon families and individuals. The rod which corrects you may be sharp and heavy, and the evil agency of men may be seen in every blow which you receive, but the rod is still in the hand of God, and He regulates both the number and the severity and the duration of your chastisements.

II. IF ALL EVIL COMES FROM THE HAND OF GOD, WHY DOES HE SEND SUCH EVILS? We cannot suppose that He is changeable, and capricious, and unjust, and cruel; that He inflicts willingly, that He has pleasure in the miseries of mankind. It may, therefore, be stated generally, that national Calamities are the punishment of national sins. Among the Israelites idolatry was a great and prevailing sin, and many of the calamities which came upon them came because they gave God's glory unto other gods, and His praise unto graven images. The truth applies to individuals. There is a strange perverseness in multitudes which lead's them to imagine that they are suffering for the sins of others. They can see guilt in others, but none in themselves. No man ever really suffered for the sins of others. Others may have been the agents in inflicting, the sin was his own.

III. HOW SHOULD WE ACT WHEN GOD SENDS SUCH EVILS?

1. It becomes us to acknowledge that all the evils we suffer come from God.

2. It becomes us to acknowledge that all the calamities we feel or fear are most just. There cannot be unrighteousness with God.

3. We should bewail and forsake those sins which have provoked God to send such evils upon us.

4. Stand in awe, and sin not, lest a worse thing befall you. God has been visiting you in anger, but we trust it has also been in loving-kindness.

5. Be much engaged in prayer. There are two things for which you should pray.

(1)That God would remove the evils which you are suffering.

(2)That God would sanctify to your use the calamities which you have suffered.

(W. S. Smart.)

There is no doubt that in all ages there has been as much evil done, and as much good prevented, during epidemics, by certain theological theories on what are rightly called God's judgments, as there has been good done and evil overcome by the self-denying devotion of those who hold these theories. In fact, the good they do is less than the evil. Devotion to the sick relieves a few individuals; a superstitious idea leads astray all the souls of a nation for centuries, and retards the salutary work of science. It is very hard on scientific men that their conscientious obstructors in every age have been those religious men who, from want of faith in a God of order and truth, and from blind cleaving to blind opinions, have opposed instead of assisting those whose objects were the welfare of the race through the discovery of truth. It is almost too strange to think that the spirit of the inquisitors who condemned Galileo has not yet died out. CHOLERA AS A JUDGMENT. The home of this dreadful disease is in India. But we have no real knowledge of how it originates, of the cause of its curious periodicity, of the means whereby it is propagated. Nor have we any knowledge how to cure it. The disease is singularly capricious. Put yourself back into old Athenian times, what would be the result of such a new phenomenon, which they could refer to no law? It could not be the work of any of their common gods. At once they leaped to the conclusion that it was the doing of some unknown god, whom, in soma way or other, they had offended. Hence they strove to propitiate him by sacrifice and prayer. The story goes that, at least once, they let loose some sheep from the Areopagus, and wherever the wandering animals lay down, built an altar to the unknown deity, and sacrificed them to appease his wrath. One thing they did not do. They did not try to investigate the causes of the disease; they did not collect facts about it. They assumed it was supernatural, instead of assuming it was natural. We, who know God as the Unalterable, the Uncapricious, whose unchangeable love constitutes unchangeable law, we do not impute this plague, of which we know nothing, and the strangeness of which seems to separate it from other diseases, to a caprice on the part of God which He will remove on our imploring Him to let us off. Yet a part of our religious world is guilty, with regard to the cholera, of grosser superstition than the Athenians. We talk, and pray, and teach, as if it had no natural cause, obeyed no natural laws. We call it, theologically, not religiously, a judgment of God, and we use the term with a supernatural meaning attached to it. What are the results of this superstition? According to this theory, the cholera is supernatural. "Nothing will stop it but prayer." So all energy is diminished, all effort against the evil is crushed. Fortunately, though the supernatural theory is taught, it is not generally acted upon. It is good for exciting fear. for hiding from men's eyes the real evils which the cholera points out to us as deserving of God's anger. It is good for nothing else. It creates a miserable fear and terror. God is regarded as a foe who is to be bought off, or coaxed by prayer, to give up His wrath. Is there no truth then in the phrase, "a judgment of God"? Yes, plenty of truth. These things — famine, pestilence, revolution. war — are judgments of the Ruler of the world. A Ruler who rules in an orderly manner. Each judgment is connected with its proper cause, and is the result of a violation of a particular law, or set of laws. God says, Find out My laws, and accord with them your action, and My judgment will become to you not punishment but blessing. Sometimes the scientific man, enamoured of his laws and his results, says so-called judgments are nothing but natural laws working out their results. The Christian believes judgment to be much more. These natural laws, these series of causes and effects are ordered by a Divine intelligence and a moral will. Their violation is a transgression, but the moment man becomes aware that evil follows on their violation, it is not only a transgression but a sin. Moral guilt attends the nation which refuses to take measures for the extinguishing of disease. We find ourselves not only in the presence of mere law, we are brought into the presence of God. These judgments are God's judgments. He is displaying His justice in punishment, but the very punishment itself is a proof of His love. For the disease does not only punish evils, it points them out, it discloses to us the evils we were ignorant of, in order that we may remedy them. This is God's love in judgment. Apply these principles to the cholera. The conditions in which it develops itself are national sins. It laid its finger on the disgrace of England, the canker which eats into the heart of a nation — the neglected state of the poor. Again, it has been proved that want of a continual supply of pure water is the fruitful cause, not only of cholera, but of half the diseases that decimate the poor. Cholera can be diminished, as smallpox has been, by destroying the conditions when it becomes deadly to life. In Cheshire, years ago, some new plants, quite unknown beforehand in the country, sprang up beside the canals by Which the salt was carried and in the pools around the salt works. At last some one recognised the plants as those which haunt the ledges of the rocks just above the flow of the tide, but within the wash of the spray. The germs of the plants had been carried inland, by wind or bird, for years, but the conditions under which they could grow had only recently arisen. So with cholera. The poison-germ may be in the air, but everything depends on conditions of development, and these, in measure, are in our control.

(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

I. GOD EXERCISES A CONSTANT AND MINUTE SUPERINTENDENCE OVER MEN. Objections —

1. The magnitude of the universe.

2. The dignity of the Divine Governor.

3. The extreme regularity of every process.

II. GOD PUNISHES NATIONS AS SUCH.

1. Nations are morally responsible as such.

2. They are capable of joint operations, as —

(1)In flaming laws;

(2)In the administration of laws;

(3)In their public institutions;

(4)In their procedure towards others;

(5)In their general manners.

3. Sacred history teaches national responsibility. Sodom, Egypt, Canaanites, Nineveh, Babylon, Jewish history, Israel's dispersion.

4. Nations can be dealt with only in time.

III. WITH WHAT FEELINGS GOD'S DEALINGS WITH NATIONS SHOULD BE REGARDED.

1. Consideration.

(1)Forsaking ordinances.

(2)Violating the Sabbath.

(3)Drunkenness.

(4)Perjury.

(5)Oppression.

2. Repentance. Including —

(1)Humility.

(2)Reformation.

(J. Stewart.)

This text is very liable to a wrong interpretation. It strongly asserts by its question that God is the author of evil. But of what evil?

I. NOT OF MORAL EVIL, WHICH IS SIN, BUT OF NATURAL EVIL, WHICH IS CALAMITY. And why of that? Many have not scrupled, directly or indirectly, to charge God with being the author of evil as sin. What is moral evil? It is the evil of what is done or thought or said by a moral agent, contrary to the rule of moral conduct laid down for him by God, his moral Governor. The brutes, without understanding of moral good or evil, are incapable of committing moral evil. Man chose to act contrary to the rule laid down for him by God. Sin is the transgression of the law. Then God cannot in any way, directly or indirectly, be the author of sin. To Him it is the abominable thing. No circumstances can justify a sin. God gave us appetites and passions, but not to be abused. He expressly forbids their abuse. One of the most subtle modes of charging God with abetting wickedness is by abusing the doctrines of grace. "God must give faith in Christ, and change the heart. He has not done this for me. Therefore I am justified in following the devices and desires of my own heart." Wherever there is moral evil, one thing is clear and sure, "The Lord hath not done it"; it was the sinner's own doing. Our most conclusive proof that God cannot be the author of moral evil, which should settle the matter for ever is, His gift of His Son, to become man and to die, as the one only and sufficient atonement for sin. This shows sin to be infinitely evil in His sight; it proves His solemn detestation of all iniquity.

II. GOD DOES SEND NATURAL EVIL OR CALAMITY; AND WHY? The distinction between natural and moral evil is easy to be observed. A child may learn it. Moral evil is what is contrary to moral duty, committed by a moral agent. Natural evil is that which, occurring contrary to the usual course and order of things, disturbs the being so interfered with. Not a calamity can befall a city, not a trouble light upon an individual, without the hand of God permitting and directing it. Guard against hard thoughts of God. God deals thus in the way of punishment and correction. In the case of a city or a country sinning against God, the connection is often more evident between the sin and the punishment than in the case of individuals. It is good to read history with a Christian eye. We should seriously mistake if, wherever we saw calamity or trouble, we inferred that there had been peculiar sin. Though God is not the author of moral evil, He is the author of deliverance from it, through His Son Jesus Christ. Through Christ we may be fully pardoned and fully justified, and in due time fully sanctified; and then what will become of natural evils? For Christ is the Saviour from all evils.

(John Hambleton, M. A.)

The evil here dealt with is not moral evil, it is the suffering of evil or calamity. The text does not attribute to God the production of sin, but the infliction of that penal or corrective evil which God may lay on a city or nation, to punish it duly for sin, and to correct it, and bring it back to God. The world is composed of good and evil. Of good, which was in it as it came from God; of evil, that entered into it when it became infected with sin. In this world, while we have much that is real good and that is imaginary good, we have both real and imaginary good commingled with what is evil; and it becomes a problem of no easy solution to tell whether the one or the other doth generally predominate. When we enjoy uninterrupted and unmingled good we are disposed to attribute all the good we enjoy to ourselves. We easily forget God. The moment that evil is inflicted on us, our pride is alarmed by the injury to our feelings. We begin to look beyond self, and search for some cause to which we can attribute the evil we endure. Some attribute to chance. Others to a general law of nature. The particular actings of these general laws they take entirely out of the hands of God, and only look to this second instrumentality by which, according to their ideas, the general laws impressed on the creation of God are found to operate. The consequence of this will be that good will be enjoyed and self will be honoured; or if, perchance, nature, or the God of nature, be acknowledged, yet the secondary cause will be their own skill, or industry, or application, or some other such cause that still leaves God out of His temple and sets up humanity. Or, on the other hand, if evil be endured, it will be attributed to any cause but to God. Here it is that the Spirit of God comes in as our instructor. Wherever there is evil, in the sense of calamity, "the Lord hath done it."

I. THE EVIL IN THE CITY.

1. The commercial distress of the times. Men are ready to attribute such evil to any cause whatever but to the true cause — sin in the heart of man, and God putting His hand on that sin to punish it, or reform those who are the subjects of it.

2. The extended want of employment where employment was abundantly enjoyed. Why is there want of employment? Attribute it to the stagnation of trade — what is the cause of that? The sin of the people and the judgment of God. Attribute it to an overflowing population — what is the reason that employment does not hold pace with population? It is simply because the population are not educated in the knowledge of God, not educated in the principles of morality.

3. Comparative famine and the pestilence.

4. The disunion of the land. This is to be attributed to our national sin; for God in His mercy is able to take away all these disunions, and He will remedy all these evils the moment He has taught us, rich and poor, to repent of our individual sins and turn to the living God.

5. Sabbath-breaking. There is one great cause or effect of the national depravity of morals.

II. THE IMPORTANT LESSON TO BE DRAWN FROM THE FACT, "THE LORD HATH DONE IT." No individual, no Church, no minister is free from a share in the national sins. It is the object of God, by bringing calamity on us, to make us think of Him. The moment man thinks of God, he is compelled to think of himself, because he is God's reflected image. So man asks, Why am I like God, and yet so unlike Him? There is not a portion of the land which is not suffering from these sins — the neglect of the education of the people and Sabbath-breaking. Whenever God sends a calamity on the land, He sends with it a voice, calling upon His own people to do all the good they can by the means of the evil He inflicts on them and on others. Two great lessons to be derived from the subject.

1. The mercy of God in the infliction of evil as Calamity.

2. There is but one remedy for the evils of the land — the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Henry Cooke, D. D. , LL. D.)

I. ALL THE CALAMITIES WHICH BEFALL A GREAT STATE ARE SENT THE OVERRULING PROVIDENCE OF GOD. Case of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:14-16); and Tyre (Isaiah 23:9-11). But if the hand of God was manifested in the punishment and destruction of idolatrous individuals and nations, much more plainly do the judgments that so frequently befell God's own people, the Jews, seem to have been the result of a judicial sentence from heaven, passed upon them for their transgressions. The evil spoken of in the text is not criminal evil, but the punishment that follows the commission of sin and all the inconveniences which accompany it. This is termed the evil of punishment or penal evil. This may be ascribed to God. The evil of sin, or moral evil, is from ourselves; it is our own doing; but the evil of trouble and suffering for sin, individual and national, is from God, is His doing, whatever be the immediate instruments by which He chooses to inflict it.

II. IN ADDITION TO INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER, AND THE OTHER OBVIOUS RELATIONS IN LIFE MEN HAVE TO SUSTAIN, GOD REGARDS THEM IN THEIR COLLECTIVE CAPACITY, AND VISITS THEM WITH NATIONAL JUDGMENTS. This great truth cannot be too often insisted on. Each of us belongs to a country which has its claims upon him, in return for the benefits he receives from it. When any particular country is subject to peculiar national advantages or evils, the inhabitants of that country are benefited or injured by them. But what experience teaches us is the method that has been found necessary to be adopted for the mutual help of society, and which we find coincide with the laws of nature, Scripture teaches us is the plan upon which God's moral government over man is conducted; namely, that God regards man in his national capacity, and rewards or punishes him accordingly.

III. ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY THESE IMPORTANT DOCTRINES OF HOLY WRIT.

1. The relationship which exists among men, as members of society upon earth, will have no existence in another state.

2. God rewards or punishes nations in this world that they may be led, in their national capacity, to acknowledge His authority, and to regulate their affairs according to His will, and in obedience to His commands. It was on this very account that the Almighty purposed to form the Jewish State into a theocracy. Lesson —

1. We should learn to acknowledge the hand of God in the chastening visits of His providence, and humble ourselves before Him as parts of a guilty nation.

2. We should endeavour to ascertain the cause, or causes, of afflictive dispensations, so that we may be enabled to put from us the "accursed thing" that is so offensive to our Maker.

3. We should be thankful to God that we have hitherto so mercifully escaped the judgments, and in gratitude to Him give liberally of our. substance in aid of those on whom the judgments have fallen.

(Joseph Peer, M. A.)

Men are always ready to overestimate the importance of the times in which they live. The ordinary appears wonderful. Our fathers felt and said about their times just as we say and feel about ours. These are not the most stirring times ever seen in our land. We need not think that all social order is going to be destroyed because sometimes our city is aroused, by sounds that are somewhat alarming, from its complacent quest of wealth, comfort, and amusement.

1. It is a very natural thing to fear approaching danger. The trumpet blown in the city is intended to cause alarm. It may tell of an approaching army. Or the danger may be from within; the trumpet-blast of some conspiracy.

2. Fear is a great preservative power. The certain consequences of any evil cause are a great preventive force. God intended they should have this effect. His Word often appeals to this faculty of fear. And we too may tell of the judgment that must be faced by individuals as by nations. We may tell of the retributions that must follow. The trumpet of warning must give no uncertain sound. It must ring in the centre of a man's soul.

3. The Divine purpose in permitted evil. It is to the same end as the trumpet-blast. Calamity calls for consideration. The cause must be found out and the evil removed. Things that are evil in some way God wills. It is for the devout student to consider calamities and inquire into the cause of moral evil. When a city has to suffer, the inhabitants should consider. Illustrate from time when the Romans attacked Jerusalem. London may not be more wicked in proportion than Paris, or Vienna, or Berlin, or Rome, or New York, or Melbourne. It is, however, the largest city in the world. Men will be compelled to inquire as to whether much physical evil is not the result of a debased moral state, arising from a neglect of God's Word, God's laws, God's worship, God's day, and God's love. For this the Church itself may be answerable. Her pride and laziness, wealth, and sectarian bitterness may have fostered the evils, It is for God's Church to be aroused to a lively interest in all that concerns the temporal and spiritual welfare of people around. She has something to say on social questions. Christians should be foremost in all movements for elevating men, or extending the sway of liberty and justice. They must not fold their hands and say, "All will be well." They must do something to make things better. As individuals, have we listened to the warning trumpet? Have we sought to understand God's dealing with us in the difficulties, the disappointments, the losses, the sorrows, the afflictions, the bereavements of life?

(Frederick Hastings.)

Evil here is not the commission of iniquity, but the pressure of distress. Consider the Lord's agency in the infliction of evil, in contradistinction to —

I. CHANCE. The truth is, chance is a mere term of human ignorance. The only rational meaning of the word is that we are in ignorance of the cause or causes of the event. There is an atheism which denies the existence of a God altogether. And there is an atheism which admits the existence, but denies all superintendence of human or created beings," and of their respective concerns. We might as well have no God as no providence. The sentiment of the text is the reverse of this. It is, that there is a God, and that He directs and governs all things. In what strong and delightful terms is the doctrine of a universal and particular providence expressed by Him who " spake as never man spake" (Matthew 10:29-31).

II. DISTINGUISH THE AGENCY OF JEHOVAH FROM THAT OF IDOLS. There is a tendency in man to two opposite extremes, atheism and superstition. Superstition is the offspring of guilty fears; and the general character of the gods of the heathen, in many cases indicated by their very forms, accords with the nature of their origin. Again, there has discovered itself, wherever the knowledge of the true God has been imparted, a mournfully consistent propensity to forget Him, to overlook His superintendence, to leave Him out of our thoughts.

III. DIVINE AGENCY MAY BE REGARDED IN CONTRADISTINCTION TO AN EXCLUSIVE ATTENTION TO SECOND CAUSES. How frequently is something called Nature deified! And second and subordinate causes are so contemplated and insisted on, as to indicate an exclusion from the mind of the great originating cause of all being, and the supreme uncontrolled Director of all events! In accounting for our calamities we are in imminent danger of this kind of atheism. All second causes are under the unceasing and sovereign control of the First. Thus it is with the elements of nature. There are laws; we forget that they are His laws. We have not done enough when we have accounted for disease from the state of the atmosphere, for the desolations of the storm from the theory of the winds, for deficient crops from blight and grub and mildew. We must go higher. We must rise to Him by whom all these, with every other power of mischief, are commissioned to work their respective effects. The same great general truth applies to men and to the events of history, in which men are the agents. Learn that the existing national evils or calamities, though inflicted by a power which we cannot resist, are not inflicted in ca rice. It is painful to hear the inconsiderate manner in which many speak of the Divine "sovereignty." While God may retain in His own mind the special causes of particular visitations, He has not left us in ignorance of the great general cause of all suffering. Natural evil is the offspring of moral evil. All good is from God; all evil is from the sinner himself. All evil is of the nature of punitive, righteous retribution.

(Ralph Wardlaw, D. D.)

The inscription which adorns the south entablature of the monument by London Bridge, and the ancient custom of this corporation remind us that we are assembled to commemorate one of the most awful calamities under which this city ever mourned, the great fire of 1666. Why are such calamities sent? Whatever agents God employs, they are only permitted to act just so fax as He has ordained, and no farther. Sometimes to punish, sometimes to reward. This principle is evident from those records of causes and effects, of predictions and fulfilments, which the revealed Word of God supplies. I know how much this Word has been despised by the world, neglected by the careless, held in disrepute by the wise, obscured by one Church, hidden by a second, and intonated into empty sound by a third; but still this, and this alone, is the written memorial of providence, the act of God's legislature, the rule of His judgment, the cause of the acquittal, or of the condemnation of man. Trace the history of causes and effects in God's Word. In minute circumstances man contrives, and God disposes. Man is free to act, God directs the blow. Who were the agents of the fire of 1666? Many were accused; but the "London Gazette" of that time wisely said, "The whole was the effect of an unhappy chance: or, to speak better, the heavy hand of God upon us for our sins, showing us the terror of His judgment in thus raising the fire." Why was London thus marked for destruction? It was for our example. There was sin there — sin, perhaps, which God would not pardon. There were then great provocations against God. The moral improprieties and extravagancies of the court and of the nobility were notorious. The iniquities which reigned there were too open for concealment. And there is evil in the city still. And there are judgments of the Lord still afflicting us. But from that extremity of woe, time, the restorer of all things, raises up the fallen city. The power of providence, which brought this evil upon her, cheers her with substantial visions of future peace and plenty. And so it ever is. He who afflicts, corrects, punishes, is also the Redeemer and Restorer.

(S. Reed Cattley, M. A.)Evil, or suffering, as chastisement or condemnation: — "Temptation," or testing, may be trial from God, or with evil intent from the devil or wicked persons. Glory, may mean either brightness, splendour, or goodness, loveliness of character. "Evil" may be either sin or suffering. The second sense of evil is to be found in the text.

I. "EVIL," AS PUNISHMENT FOR SINS, "DONE" BY GOD. Amos foretells suffering as merited by sin (ver. 2). Yet a visitation of chastening mercy (Isaiah 45:7; Jeremiah 5:9, 12). Troubles in a city, or family, or people, may be punishing providences. They may be chastisement or condemnation.

II. NATIONAL SINS BRING ON NATIONAL JUDGMENTS. God has declared the responsibility of a people. Plague, invasion, dearth, may be evils sent by Him to whom it "belongeth justly to punish sinners." Amos calls to repentance. Judgments are conditional God reveals that men may escape.

III. AS TO INDIVIDUALS, SPECIAL SUFFERINGS MAY BE PUNISHMENT FOR SPECIAL SINS. Let us have a "may be" in judging others. In the case of the true believer afflictions are for purifying, for profit, and generally, for glorifying God. Be not hasty in regarding evil as a token of God's anger towards you. Yet humbly examine and judge. Look above second causes. Receive the hand of God upon you for good. Of some special sin repented of, "covered," the sorrow, the consequent "evil" may remain. Closing period of David's life. Manasseh truly turned, but he could not help seeing the mischief that he had done. Faith's comfort when regarding affliction as the punishment of sin is that it comes from the Everlasting Love; not from chance or fate, but from the "Father of Mercies," perfect in wisdom and justice. "In the way of Thy judgments have we waited for Thee."

(W. O. Purton.)

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