Possibly! Fear tends always to produce the thing it is afraid of. I mention this dark outlook only for the reason that even if the cataclysm were to come the individual can escape from it.

Cataclysms are not new in the history of our race. The rise and fall of civilizations may be called mankind’s lessons in “how not to do it.” Of these lessons, there are no such records as those which we find in the Old Testament; and in these records, it is unfailingly pointed out that whatever the calamity which overtakes the world at large the individual has, if he chooses, a way of safety. The innocent are not overwhelmed with the guilty, except when the innocent deliberately shut their eyes to the opening toward the Soteria—the Safe Return. But that, unhappily, the innocent do so shut their eyes is one of the commonest facts in life.

Back in that twilight of history of which the later tale could be told only by some symbol, some legendary hieroglyph, there was already an “Ark” by which the faithful few could be saved from the “Flood.” The symbol became permanent. The Ark of the Covenant —the sign of a great spiritual understanding—remained as a token to man that in God he had a sure refuge. It was laid up in his Holy of Holies, a mystic, consecrated pledge, till the ruthless Caucasian came and rifled it.

But no rifling could deprive mankind of its significance. That endures. To bring it home to the desolate and oppressed was a large part of the mission of psalmists and prophets. The Ark of the Covenant—of the Great Understanding—meant as much to those who sought God in the ancient world as the Cross does to Christendom. It meant that whatever the collapse, national or general, through siege or sack or famine, those who would escape could escape by the simple process of mentally taking refuge in God. The Ark of God would bear them safely when all material help failed.

Among the themes which run through the Old Testament, this is of paramount importance. It is impossible to do more than refer to the many times the spiritually minded were implored to seek this protection. It was needful to implore them since they found the assurance so difficult to believe. No matter how often it was proved to them they still doubted it. Saved by this method once, they would reject it when it came to danger the second time. Saved the second time, they rejected it the third. “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee,” is the declaration of Jeremiah, who perhaps more than any other was a prophet of disaster. Similar statements are scattered through the Old Testament by the score, by the hundred. It was a point on which leaders, seers, and teachers insisted with a passionate insistence. They knew. They had tested the truth for themselves. Disaster was a common feature in their history. During the three thousand years and more, which their experiences cover these Israelites had seen more than one invasion sweep across their land, more than one civilization come and go. All that Belgium knew in the Great War, they knew time and time again. Between Egypt and Assyria, the France and Germany of that special epoch, theirs was a kind of buffer state over which every new anguish rolled. “Let it roll,” was the cry of their prophets. “The Lord will fight for you. Stand still and see what he will do. His arm is not shortened neither his strength diminished. It is of the Lord to save whether by many or by few. Trust in the Lord and be doing good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Oh, how great is thy goodness which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men. I said in my haste, I am cut off! Nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my supplication when I cried unto thee. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”


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