‘Some…told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans?…Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?’ Luke 13:1–4
Suggested Further Reading: Job 1:1–22
If railways had never been constructed, there would still have been sudden deaths and terrible accidents. In taking up the old records in which our ancestors wrote down their accidents and calamities, we find that the old stage coach yielded quite as heavy a booty to death as does the swiftly-rushing train; there were gates to Hades then as many as there are now, and roads to death quite as steep and precipitous, travelled by quite as vast a multitude as in our present time. Do you doubt that? Permit me to refer you to the passage before you. Remember those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell. No collision crushed them; yet some badly-built tower, or some wall beaten by the tempest could fall upon eighteen at a time, and they could perish. Or worse than that, a despotic ruler, having the lives of men in his hand, might suddenly fall upon worshippers, and mix their blood with the blood of the bullocks which they were sacrificing. Do not think, then, that this is an age in which God is dealing more hardly with us than of old. Do not think that God’s providence has become more lax than it was; there always were sudden deaths, and there always will be. Be not, therefore, cast down with any sudden fear, neither be troubled by these calamities.
For meditation: We can also draw wrong conclusions from recent catastrophes. Foretelling disasters before his second coming, Jesus added ‘but the end is not yet’ (Matthew 24:6–8). Some in Spurgeon’s day had the second coming pencilled in for 1866 (see 12 October).
N.B. There had been several serious accidents in 1861 including two train crashes in which 39 people had died during the previous fortnight.
Sermon no. 408
8 September (1861)