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as your consciences now admonish you is the truth of the case. Why then will you not obey the truth? Why will you not yield to this first law of heaven? "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Why will you not arise and go to your Father? Your opportunity will not always remain. To some of you it may be closed soon. Soon death may come, and then there will be no space for repentance. Consider these things, O ye who are living without God in the world. I have set before you this day life and death, the portion of the men of this world, and the portion of the saints. The one or the other of these will be the final portion of every one, and the choice of every one in his own case will have decided it. Now, then, compare them, and choose for yourselves. They are before you, and now let reason and conscience decide. May you know in this your day the things which belong to your peace! God is waiting Christ is interceding the Spirit is pleading-and all heaven cries, "O that they were wise-that they understood this -that they would consider their latter end!"
GOD OUR PORTION HERE AND HEREAFTER.
GOD my supporter and my Hope,
Thy counsels, Lord, shall guide my feet
Were I in heaven without my God,
What if the springs of life were broke,
The Strength of every saint.
Far from thy presence, die;
Can save them when they cry.
But to draw near to thee, my God,
BY REV. DAVID DOBIE,
PLATTSBURGH, N. Y.
FEAR OF CONTAGION AND DISEASE.
"Every house is shut up that no man may come in.”—ISAIAH xxiv. 10.
FROM the context it would seem these words are intended to describe the state of things in a city during a famine, or the prevalence of some very fatal and contagious disease. At such times there is a state of feeling, common to all, which it may be profitable to study, that we may the better ascertain the restraints whereby it ought to be controlled. We read of those who take no precautions against the pestilence, even when it is raging with terrible destructiveness. They satisfy themselves with saying, that if they are decreed to die by the plague, they will so die-it is the will of God! But this is an exception to the common sense of the world. Acting on the natural love of life, which God has implanted within them, men are generally disposed to avoid disease, and every evil whereby their health or life may be endangered.
The wisdom of this law of self-preservation is very manifest. If it were not a law of man's nature, and if mankind were not every hour more or less under its influence, there would be scenes of woe, even in this miserable world, which, in all its wretchedness, it has never so much as imagined. The Creator foresaw this when he made man; and he made self-preservation one of the primary laws of his being one of the most sacred, necessary, and useful laws of the human mind. It is the divinely sanctioned principle which underlies all human laws-the basis of all right enactments protecting health, reputation, property, and life in the body politic. And it is because God approves of the principle, that his approval extends to these enactments, and the authority by which they are enforced: "Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." Thus God throws his shield over the life and well being of his creature: and whoever undermines my health, blasts my reputation, invades my property, or endangers my life-commits an offence which God will avenge. This law is also a guide in respect to pursuits in life. It teaches what to adopt and what to avoid. Any pursuit, the legitimate tendency of which is adverse to the health or morals of men, is essentially bad, through the force of this law. The trade in intoxicating liquor comes under this condemnation. It is properly of the nature of suicide; and there is no more wisdom in granting it license than there is in allowing a madman to possess the instruments by which he will take his own life, or that of his keeper. It is a trade to be prohibited and put down, as we would extinguish a conflagration and punish the incendiary. It is also worthy of remark that the law of self-preservation is the basis of all encouragements given to science-especially to the science of preventing and healing disease. Every discovery and improvement in medical skill
is so much more towards the preservation of human life, and is hailed with satisfaction by all. The same thing is true of education and the diffusion of knowledge. By these means men's minds are enlightened and aroused to avoid whatever is noxious to health and life.
Heathenism places little value on human life. The same thing has been observed in reference to infidelity, whose reign was the reign of murder. To the praise of Christianity be it recorded, that one of its invariable influences, in all lands, is to throw around life a sacred inviolability, not to be removed, save in the most desperate extremity. He that attacks life, attacks the very foundation on which society is built. Life ranks first among things to be protected. Every man feels that there are good reasons for this from the very instincts of nature. Both reason and revelation show that life is man's most sacred interest; and this is the ground on which precautions against contagion and disease are justifiable. No instruction or persuasion is necessary in such circumstances; an intimation that men are in danger is enough; you need not persuade them to "shut up the house that no man may come in." Let them know that contagion is in their path, and they will quickly flee. The very face of their friend will be a terror to them. They will not inhale the faintest breath. It was imposed upon lepers in ancient times, on approaching any person not afflicted with their disease, to cry, "Unclean! unclean!" as the condition of their being permitted to live. Men are everywhere alive to the instincts which enacted that ancient law. Let the plague break out, and what a sensation is produced. What trembling at the bare possibility of being exposed! What abstinence from former gratifications! What suspicion in every look! What scrupulous precautions, such as at other times would hardly be endured! It is necessary to see this state of things, to know the full extent of what men will do. Business is suspended. The once thronged streets are still as the grave. Music ceases in the halls of the rich. Mirth is reproved, where once it was a virtue. Every man thinks how he may for a certainty preserve himself from the breath of the destroyer. The precious bonds of society verily seem on the eve of dissolution. How thankful we ought to be that such seasons visit us but very seldom. Yet they do come, and we are compelled to know what it is to dread contagion. As this dread may easily become inordinate, and lead to the very evils which it seeks to shun, it is the object of the present discourse to point out some of the principles by which it should be controlled.
I. The fear of contagion and disease should never be indulged without the distinct recognition that disease and all its causes are under the immediate and all-wise superintendence of God. Unless we bear this in mind, our fear will certainly overstep its proper limits. If we lose sight of the great fact that God reigns and rules over all that pertains to life and its continuance, we must of necessity do wrong, by rushing into conduct and sentiments also, wholly at variance with the honor of God and hurtful to our own peace. A sense of His presence and an assurance of His protecting hand is especially needful when death has entered our windows; when the pestilence is abroad, destroying its thousands-filling every house with fear, lamentation and woe. Our fear of contagion is instinctive, and springs from the law of self-preservation implanted within us, and it is
therefore not to be wholly suppressed, but it should always be moderated with the assurance that all the resources of wisdom and power are at God's command, and that he can defend and save us from disease and from all its causes. On this point we ought not to entertain a moment's doubt. "I will say of the Lord, He is my fortress; my God, in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."
II. The fear of contagion should never interfere with the duties of humanity. The infirm should be cared for; the aged and the young protected; the sick should be ministered to; the dead buried; and those in danger, faithfully warned. All this is required by the golden rule, of doing to others as we would they should do to us. When exposed to disease, we would wish those acquainted with the fact to warn us of our danger; when attacked with sickness, we would wish some friend to come to our aid; when sinking into the grave, overcome and vanquished by the great enemy, we would even then desire to be comforted-if but with the kind look of a fellow mortal; all this therefore ought we to render others in the day of their extremity. Life itself must be sometimes, not only offered, but actually sacrificed, on the altar of benevolence; for God has made it our duty to live, only in the discharge of duty. Life, indeed, is not to be recklessly thrown away, where there is no prospect of good being accomplished; but where disease is raging, every dictate of humanity demands that we attend the sick at every hazard. The case is the same where our friends are perishing in the waters, or in the fire; humanity requires that we make every exertion to save them, even at the risk of our own lives.
III. When the fear of contagion exceeds the fear of sin, then it is certainly inordinate and wrong. This must be manifest on a moment's reflection. Sin is the most dreadful evil in the universe. There is in truth no evil but itself. Sin alone provokes the wrath of God. But for sin, we might bid farewell to all our fears-all our sorrows would be but for a moment. Free from sin, we might welcome disease and death itself with joy. How glad the message, by which we are called into the presence of God and all the realities of eternity! If on the other hand we are still involved in its guilt and condemnation, how dreadful beyond expression is everything connected with the day of our death-since we are in danger of eternal ruin. But on what ground can we justify ourselves in being more afraid of disease than sin? in trembling at the thought of being exposed to sickness, while the breaking of the commandments of God gives us comparatively no concern? in shutting up the sick that they may not go out, and yet not standing in any dread of doing that which deliberately provokes the wrath of God? Let us treat things according to their merits. If sin is the greatest of all evils, then let us so regard it, and conduct ourselves accordingly. Let us ascertain from the most patient in
vestigation, whether the infected chamber of a sick person is not more terrible to us than the unholy home of mirth and ungodliness; whether the dread of taking a disease is not more active in us than the dread of living impenitent without faith in Christ. Here is a good test of our principles a safe criterion of our actual standing in the sight of God. Would we, as by instinct, put our hand to our mouth and hold our breath, in presence of disease, and immediately throw open our whole hearts to the influence of a moral leper, a man whose heart and life are at enmity with God? This is entirely a fair question. Do not the highest interests of our souls demand that we should prove ourselves in some such way as this? We assuredly know enough of the deceitfulness of our hearts to be already aware of the danger to which we are exposed from this very quarter. What if, on investigation, we should find that we regard contagion a more dreadful thing than the violation of the will of God? Would it be a piety worthy of the gospel if it placed the safety of the body above the glory of God? Would any of us feel prepared for the scrutiny of the last judgment, if our devotion to our Savicur rose no higher-that we would flee from infection at the first warning, and yet show no willingness to turn from sin, even at his command? But is there not good reason to believe that many who profess to believe in Christ and in the solemn realities of a coming eternity, who maintain that sin is the only evil to be shunned, are yet very inconsistent when placed in proximity to some contagious and prevailing disease? When the wind blows from an infected house, they are thrown into a panic at their danger; and yet the same persons may be found at their ease, yea, in very great self-complacency and joy, in the midst of a theatre, surrounded with, and breathing an atmosphere of spiritual death!
Now we would not deride the fear of contagion; on the contrary, it is dictated by the great first law of self-preservation; and therefore constitutional and right in its proper degree. We would not argue for presumption, when the pestilence is in the land. But we would insist that Christians at least, who show more fear of infection than of moral evil, give the world but little reason to regard them sincere in their professions of supreme devotion to the Great Master. We would insist, that as sin is a greater evil than disease of body, so it ought to command in us a corresponding dread. From its terrible contagion we should instinctively shrink, as from the horrible verge of hell. What is this fear of disease, which so soon arouses every soul in the population of a crowded city as with the blast of a trumpet, but the dread of going into the presence of God to render up an account of our deeds? And would we cherish such a state of mind were we really at peace with God, living in all good conconscience in the keeping of his commandments? Would the bare mention of the plague all but quench our faith in the providence and goodness of God, if we were longing to be with God in the blessed fellowship of heaven? If sin were seen by us in its true character; if we entertained proper views of God's feelings towards it; if we would allow ourselves to understand its effect upon our own happiness-would we so easily err, in preferring sin to affliction?
In conclusion, we may learn,
1. That our duty to God takes precedence of every other duty. Such is the order signified in the law: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,