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their meaning cannot be doubtful.
“ You ask where this judgment is to fall —upon
what country, and on what people. I tell you, everywhere. Wherever there is sin and carelessness, there will be the judgment; even as there are surely found birds of
wherever there is a carcass to devour. Do not then deceive yourselves by giving to my words a local and personal meaning, which would cripple their general usefulness. If they applied to Jerusalem only, in less than forty years, when Jerusalem will be destroyed, the lesson they contain would be useless. But their truth and their force shall last for centuries after Jerusalem is in ruins; and after the nation by which Jerusalem is to finish, has been cut off from the face of the earth in its turn. Heaven
and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away;' and till heaven and earth do pass, there never will be a time, there never will be a country, there never will be an individual, to whom they will not be as useful and as applicable as to the Jews at this moment.”
Such I conceive to be the purport of our Lord's reply to his disciples, when he said, “Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.” And it is according to the lesson thus conveyed, that I would
wish to dwell upon the words of the preceding verse, “ Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
I take them as applying to ourselves who are this day here assembled. We are “all together in the field,” engaged in the same daily business; living, in a manner, to ourselves, during the greatest part of the year ; and so much engaged amongst ourselves, that we have little time or inclination to take much part in what is going on elsewhere. Nay, from the very circumstances of our case, we are in a closer relation to each other than can exist between neighbours in general society. The words of a former verse are applicable to us here: “ Two men shall be in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other shall be left.” We are not only working together in the field, that is, engaged together in the same occupations of our busier hours; but, like the two men in one bed, our hours of rest, of refreshment, and amusement, are all shared together likewise. No connexion can be well closer, both in hours of work and hours of play and enjoyment, than that of those who are being brought up together at the same school.
But mark what follows next : says, “ Two men shall be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and the other left : two men shall be in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other shall be left.” It is even so, indeed. We are living closely together now; we share in one another's business and pleasures; but shall we be always so united ? If the vail could for a moment be drawn up, which hangs over the future; if we could but look eight or ten years onwards, how infinite would be the variety of fortune experienced by those now here assembled, who have now so much in common with each other! The one shall be taken and the other left. Life will wear an infinitely varied aspect then, to those who find it now so uniform. What a difference of success and failure, of prosperity and adversity, of wealth and poverty, rank and obscurity, of joy and grief, will befall those who are now in circumstances so similar ! And what mortal eye, though ever so well acquainted with the present characters and fortunes of you all, could dare to predict your future destiny! Who shall be taken
! and who left; on whom misfortune will fall, and whom it may spare; nothing in your
present state can enable any man so much as to guess. Even in the common points of worldly fortune, there can be formed no sure calculation, so suddenly and so unexpectedly, even in these matters, do our prospects, in a few years, either brighten or darken. But still less can we form the slightest notion of our happiness and misery in after life; of what may be the state of our domestic relations; what the condition of our health and faculties; what the degree of respect or indifference with which we may be treated in the world. Nothing, indeed, is more striking, than, when we have lived ten or twenty years from the period of our leaving school, to consider the various fates of those with whom we were once living so familiarly, as far as it may be in our power to trace it. Above all, we thus gain a very lively notion of the uncertainty of the duration of life ; for few can look thus around, even in the full vigour of manhood, without perceiving that many of those who entered on the world with them, and who set out from one common port, have even already ceased to accompany them, and are gone down in their first spring time to the grave.
But our Lord's words have yet a further
and more solemn application. “ Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” I the streams of our several fortunes were but divided for a time, and all were to unite again, and find their way together into one and the self-same ocean, the sense of their separation would be far less awful. But, instead of this, we know that, in too many cases, the streams do but flow further and further asunder, till their end at last is the very extreme of distance and difference. We know, in short, that, in the most solemn sense of all, one will at last be taken, and the other left; one taken away into outer darkness, the other left, as a full shock of corn on the harvest-field, to be gathered into the garner of his Lord. So near, so closely connected with each other now,—yet then as far parted asunder, as to hell and heaven! In that day, the eagles of God will surely seek out their prey, and with most infallible certainty will fix on it. No more mixture of good and evil then; no more of the wheat and tares growing together, when the tares were spared lest the wheat should be hurt by rooting them up; no more blessings undeservedly enjoyed by evil men, because they are in the same field together with the good,