But as for the owners of filthy houses, and the suppliers of poisoned water, be sure that, in His own way and His own time, God will visit them; that when He maketh inquisition for blood, He will assuredly requite upon the guilty persons, whoever they are, the blood of those five or six thousand of her Majesty’s subjects who have been foully done to death by cholera in the last two months, as He requited the blood of Naboth, or of any other innocent victim of whom we read in Holy Writ. This outbreak of cholera in London, considering what we now know about it, and have known for twenty years past, is a national shame, scandal, and sin, which, if man cannot and will not punish, God can and will.
But there is another objection, which is far more important and difficult to answer. This cholera has not slain merely fathers and mothers of families, who were more or less responsible for the bad state of their dwellings; but little children, aged widows, and many other persons who cannot be blamed in the least.
True. And we must therefore believe that to them—indeed to all— this has been a visitation not of anger but of love. We must believe that they are taken away from some evil to come; that God permits the destruction of their bodies, to the saving of their souls. His laws are inexorable; and yet He hateth nothing that He hath made.
And we must believe that this cholera is an instance of the great law, which fulfils itself again and again, and will to the end of the world,—’It is expedient that one die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.’
For the same dirt which produces cholera now and then, is producing always, and all day long, stunted and diseased bodies, drunkenness, recklessness, misery, and sin of all kinds; and the cholera will be a blessing, a cheap price to have paid, for the abolition of the evil spirit of dirt.
And thus much for this very painful subject—of which some of you may say—’What is it to us? We cannot prevent cholera; and, blessed as we are with abundance of the purest water, there is little or no fear of cholera ever coming into our parish.’
That last is true, my friends, and you may thank God for it. Meanwhile, take this lesson at least home with you, and teach it your children day by day—that filthy, careless, and unwholesome habits of living are in the sight of Almighty God so terrible an offence, that He sometimes finds it necessary to visit them with a severity with which He visits hardly any sin; namely, by inflicting capital punishment on thousands of His beloved creatures.