All our care, forethought, and caution

(John MacDuff, "The Prophet of Fire" 1877)

"Wherever we go, there is but a step between
us and death!
" (Matthew Henry)

"One day Israel's new king, Ahaziah, fell through
the latticework of an upper room at his palace in
Samaria, and he was seriously injured." 2 Kings 1:2

King Ahaziah was thus suddenly prostrated in the
very midst of life; while manhood was yet in its glory.

Let us pause for a moment, and read, from the case
of Ahaziah, the impressive lesson, that all our care,
forethought, and caution
, cannot ward off accident,
calamity, and inexorable death.


King Ahaziah was laid low by an accidental fall from
an upper room at his palace. He had probably been
leaning against the screen, or railing, common in Eastern
dwellings; when, overbalancing himself, the slender rail
or latticework had given way. He fell on the tessellated
floor below, stunned and mangled, and he was carried
to a couch from which he was never to rise.

Age,
character,
rank,
position,
station,
can afford no exemption from such casualties,
and from the last terminating event of all, the
universal doom of dust.


These royal robes encircled a body as perishable
as that of the lowest subject of his realm. The hand
grasping that ivory scepter, as well as the brawny
arm of the strongest menial in his palace, must
moulder to decay.

Poor and rich;
the beggar and the prince;
the slave and his master;
Dives with his purple and gold, and
Lazarus with his crumbs and rags,
are on a level here.

The path of glory and royalty, of greatness
and power, "leads but to the grave."

The lattice on which the strong man leans;
the iron railing of full health and unbroken
energy; may in a moment give way.

Sudden accident or fever may in a few
hours write Ichabod on a giant's strength.

When you are moving through life . . .
  charioted in comforts;
  wreathed with garlands;
  regaled with music,
"Remember you are mortal!"

None dare boast presumptuously of . . .
  strong arm, and
  healthy cheek, and
  undimmed eye.

It is by the mercy of God each one of us is preserved
from the "the terrors of the night, and the dangers of
the day, and the plague that stalks in darkness, and
the disaster that strikes at midday!"

And when accident or affliction does overtake us, it
is our comfort to know that it is by His permission.

It is He who puts the arrow on the bowman's string.

It is He who loosens the railing in its sockets.

It is He who makes the lightning leap
from the clouds on its lethal errand.

It is He who guides the roll of that destroying
billow, that has swept a loved one from the deck
into a watery grave.

It is He who says, (and who can oppose!)
"You shall die, and not live!"

Ah, yes, it is easy for us in health;
when the world goes well;
when life's cup is brimming;
when the white sails are gleaming on its summer seas;
when the music of high holiday is resounding in our ears;
it is easy then to repress from thought the urgency of
more solemn verities.

But wait until the 'pillow of pain' receives the aching,
recumbent head; wait until the curtains are drawn,
and the room darkened, and that music is exchanged
for the suppressed whisper, and noiseless footfall;
wait until the solemn apprehension for the first time
steals over the spirit, that the sand glass is running
out
, life's grains diminishing, and that aweful hour
which we have evaded, dreaded, tampered with,
shrunk from, has come at last! How solemn the
mockery to try then to give to God the dregs and
remnants of a worn existence and a withered love!

How much nobler, wiser, happier to anticipate the
necessities of that inevitable hour, that whether our
summons shall come by the fall from the lattice, or
the gradual sinking and wasting of strength; whether
by sudden accident, or by the gradual crumbling of the
earthly framework; we may be ready, in calm composure,
to breathe the saying of the dying patriarch, "I have
waited for your salvation, O God."

"Wherever we go, there is but a step between
us and death!
" (Matthew Henry)




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