Bishop J C Ryle
III. WHAT does the cattle plague summon everyone to do?
In answering that question, the reader will distinctly understand that I only write as a Christian minister. Let politicians make the best laws they can to meet the present emergency. Let medical men use every possible means to arrest the plague, and patiently try every remedy. Let practical agriculturists neglect nothing that may be available to prevent contagion, to diminish the liability to infection, and to stamp out the plague when it arises. But my standpoint is that of the Bible. In the light of that book, I raise my concluding question: What shall we all do?
For one thing, let us all consider our ways. It is an age of hurry, bustle, restlessness and fast living. Railways and telegraphs keep everyone in a state of unhealthy excitement. Now surely it would be well, when the hand of God is stretched out against us, if we were all to sit down and think a little. Are we not living too fast? Would it not be well if there was more Bible reading, more Sunday keeping, more calm quiet effort to serve God and honor Him? Happy is that man, and happy is that nation, that begins to think!
For another thing, let us all humble ourselves before God, and acknowledge His hand. Alas, we are a proud, self-conceited nation! We are apt to think that we English people are the wisest, and greatest, and richest, and bravest people in the world. We are sadly blind to our many faults and sins. Surely when God’s hand is so plainly stretched out against us, it is high time to give up this boastful spirit. If there is anything that God hates, it is pride!
It is written:
“I hate pride and arrogance!” (Proverbs 8:13). “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall!” (Proverbs 16:18).
“I am against you, O you most proud” (Jeremiah 50:31).
“This was the iniquity of Sodom—pride and fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness!” (Ezekiel 16:49).
“Those who walk in pride, He is able to abase!” (Daniel 4:37).
“He who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted!” (Matthew 23:12).
For another thing, let us each individually endeavor to break off our own besetting sins, and to amend our ways. It is easy work to find fault with the Government, and to blame others when we are in trouble. The better course is to look within at ourselves, and try to do our own part to make things better. The sins of a nation are made up of the sins of a great number of individuals. Now, if every individual tries to amend his own life, and to do better, the whole nation will soon improve. The city is soon clean—when every man sweeps by his own door.
For another thing, let us each use any influence we have to check sin in others. The power that parents, masters, mistresses and employers have in this respect is very great. If all such would exert themselves to check Sabbath breaking, excess of amusements, idleness, drunkenness and immorality—it would be an immense gain to the general condition of the nation. Influence over others, we must never forget, is a talent for which we must one day give account. There are thousands of parents and employers, I fear, who completely bury this talent in the ground. They allow those under them to run into sin and, like Eli, never reprove them. It is written: “His sons made themselves vile—and he restrained them not!” (1 Samuel 3:13).
For another thing, let us each lay ourselves out more heartily to do some good in the world. It is a melancholy fact, that the increase of almsgiving in England of late bears no proportion whatever to the increase of wealth. The trade and commerce of the country have probably doubled within the last twenty-five years. Yet the incomes of most of our large religious societies are almost at a standstill. If English people will not remember that their gold and silver is only a loan from God, and intended to be used for Him—they cannot be surprised if God reminds them of it by such visitations as the cattle plague. The hand that gives a nation wealth—is the hand that can take it away!
Last of all, but not least, let us each resolve to offer special prayer to God for the removal of the judgement now upon us. Whatever else we do, let us pray. The Word of God encourages us to it:
“In everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
“Is any afflicted, let him pray” (James 5:13).
“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways—then I will hear from Heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13–14).
The presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven at God’s right hand invites us to it. He who died for sinners on the cross, is sitting there to be the sinners’ Advocate and Friend. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and knows the trials of our earthly condition.
The examples of Scripture warrant us. The men of Nineveh humbled themselves, and cried mightily to God, and God heard their cry: “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11). The character of God Himself makes it folly not to pray: “He does not afflict willingly” (Lamentations 3:33). He is the Lord God, “merciful and gracious, showing mercy unto thousands” (Exodus 34:6). “Call upon me,” He says, “in the time of trouble, and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15).
Let us pray: Almighty God, who order all things in Heaven and earth, and in whose hand is the life of man and beast, have pity on us miserable sinners, who are now visited with great sickness and mortality among our cattle. We have nothing to say for ourselves. We humbly confess that we deserve Your chastisement, because of our many national sins. But spare us, good Lord, according to Your many mercies. Deal not with us according to our sins. Withdraw from us this grievous plague, and restore health to our cattle. Above all, stir up among us true repentance, and increase true religion in the land. We ask all in the name and through the mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory. Amen.
PHILIPPINES MISSIONS UPDATE
Dr Jose Lagapa
On behalf of the Filipino Bible Fellowship, I would like to thank the Lord and True Life BPC for the gracious support extended to the missions work in the Philippines.
We are supporting the following brothers and sisters in Christ in their work for the Lord:
The following two have decided to leave us and will cease to come under our support:
[We wish them well in the Lord in their future undertakings. JK]
HOME AT FEBC AND DVBC AT HOME
Thank God for His safekeeping of FEBC students and campus during the circuit breaker since it started on April 8. Although tomorrow is the last day of the circuit breaker, the college will remain closed to the public until it reopens for the new term on July 20 (DV). In the meanwhile, the Daily Vacation Bible College (DVBC) online is ongoing till July 5.
Praise the Lord for the many who have signed up for the DVBC courses. The following is the registration breakdown:
Total Registrations: 818
Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology
Audit: 201 / Credit: 183
History of Fundamentalism
Audit: 215 / Credit: 140
The Sevenfold Will of God
Audit: 298 / Credit: 232
Audit: 257 / Credit: 195
May the Lord grant much grace and spiritual strength to His people as they study His Word during this time.
FEBC students residing on campus during the lockdown have enjoyed the sylvan and serene environment of the college. Students are keeping themselves busy with DVBC courses and cleaning duties. Thank God for keeping all of us safe and sound.
God provides. He has moved some brothers and sisters in Christ to donate food to the college during this time. The Lord bless all who have supported the college in prayer and in kind. JK
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