‘There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it,’ etc.
I. The little city.—At first sight it may seem rather paradoxical to compare this great world of ours, with its almost innumerable inhabitants, its vast area, its enormous resources, to the little city with few men within it. But do we not, comparatively speaking, take too exalted a view of this little world? For relatively little it is after all, but an insignificant fraction of God’s great universe. We know nothing of the circumstances to which the little city owed its danger—it may or may not have been its own fault—but we do know the cause of the peril in which the human family has been involved, and that the blame lies entirely with ourselves. We have forced God into the position of a foe, although He is in His heart our best and truest Friend.
II. The great king.—Whom are we to see represented by the great king—an angry God about to inflict judgment or a malignant spirit of evil assailing the human heart with his temptations? The sad and terrible truth is that we need not be at any pains to answer this question, for in one point God and Satan are at one, and that is in the recognition of the demands of justice against the sinner. Satan, from this point of view, is but the executioner of the Divine decree, and obtains his power over us in virtue of the sanctions of the broken Law. Satan is only to be feared when his assaults are backed by the law of God.
III. The poor wise man.—Our Wise Man, Himself the innocent, offered Himself, with a wisdom which was the child of love, that the guilt of our city might first be imputed to Him the innocent, and that His innocence might be imputed to our city, so that by His voluntary self-sacrifice one man might die for the city, and the city itself might be safe.
Canon Hay Aitken.
‘Sir W. Napier’s Peninsular War, 6 vols., closes with these words: “Thus the war terminated, and with it all remembrance of the veterans’ services.” His brother, Sir Charles, was the first British general who ever recorded the names of private soldiers who had distinguished themselves, side by side with those of officers.’