I found this last night in a work called The Bible and the Newspaper.
Spurgeon wrote this back in 1878.
People love domesticated rivers that stay within their banks and behave decently. The unregenerate are fine with Christians and will even tolerate them so long as they stay within the narrow confines of the walls of the church. But let a river break its normal boundaries or a Christian man or woman take their salt and light into the highways and byways, and all kinds of anxiety is aroused.
I thought this was a timely piece considering what’s gone on in West Michigan lately. This flooding Spurgeon speaks of in London happened in April as well.
FLOODS IN THE STREETS
“Rivers of waters in the streets.” — Proverbs 5:16.
“Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” — Amos 5:24.
ON Thursday morning, April 11th, when we reached the Tabernacle, at eleven o’clock, we found the rooms of the basement covered with water, so that they could not be occupied. Our Conference was unable to meet for dinner in the schoolroom, and was obliged to adjourn to another building. The papers, among many accounts of the flooded districts, thus speak of our near neighbors in the somewhat aristocratic region of Brixton: “The easterly gale which had been blowing since Sunday morning subsided on Wednesday night, and was followed by such a downpour of rain as seldom occurs in this latitude except in connection with summer thunderstorms. It was very heavy all through the night, and continued yesterday without much abatement through the early hours of the forenoon, until more rain had fallen in a few hours than the average rainfall for a month. At Brixton there was a serious flood, caused by the inability of the Effra river, which is nothing better than a covered sewer, to carry off all the water. It burst forth at all openings, and even forced itself upward in jets which are compared to the spoutings of a whale. The water rising with much rapidity, the inhabitants, who in most cases were sitting down to or preparing for breakfast, had barely time to escape from their breakfast-rooms, when the water was upon them. Snatching up what came first to hand, they made the best of their way upstairs, and finding all efforts to save their property futile, gave up the attempt in despair. In Brixton-road, not alone the carriage-way, but the footpaths were submerged, and in some places the flow of water was so great that the roadway and pavement were broken up by the rushing waters seeking to find an outlet, and in some instances the pavements were actually washed away. The main road itself was like a quickly-flowing river, and many of the side roads were also flooded. The water was in most places upwards of a foot in depth, and in many nearly two feet. Locomotion was exceedingly difficult, vehicles of all descriptions having to be drawn through the flood, with the horses nearly up to their knees in water, while with the tram-cars the water reached up to the steps, and an extra horse was necessary to draw the car.”
When the Lord is pleased to open the windows of heaven and refresh the thirsty earth with plentiful showers, man in his boasted wisdom has so arranged the cities where he dwells that there is no room for the divine bounty, and a benison becomes a danger. His careful preparations in blotting out rippling brooks and watercourses begirt with willows, and burying in the earth beneath arches of brick the once silvery streams, are all sources of peril to him; peril, too, from that which should have been his greatest blessing. The rain is good, but we have not room enough to receive it; we have space for our own filthiness if the heavenly rains will let us alone, but for “showers of blessings” our arrangements have left no receptacle, and they must drown us out, and stop our traffic, to gain even a temporary lodging-place. Time was when the Effra river would have carried the water down to the Thames without any greater inconvenience than a flooded meadow, or a garden swamped for an hour or two. Some living persons remember the Effra as a pretty brook with a charming wall by its side and overhanging trees. We have seen some pretty bits of scenery which an artist copied from this rural streamlet of days gone by. There were little rustic bridges here and there, and many a nook where lovers of quiet could sit down and meditate; but now there is no sign of the brook until you pass into Dulwich; almost throughout its entire length our modern civilization has transformed it into a covered drain. Confined within a dark arch of brick, the stream forgets its sunny days, and, like a prisoner urged along the corridor of an underground dungeon, pursues its dreary way. Alas, that man should have made human life to be so much after the same manner. Of green fields and fresh breezes how little do the multitudes of our toilers ever see or feel; of cheerfulness and content how little do many of our merchants and traders understand; and of sacred joy and consecrated delight the bulk of men know nothing whatever. Life comes to us, but too often we will not allow it to flow freely in holy content and joy, where the trees are flourishing and the birds singing among the branches, but we compel it to grovel underground in anxiety and unbelief.
Yet heavenly life cannot always be made to abide among the dead, just as the Effra when fed by showers from heaven would no longer brook its prison. It burst forth wherever a vent existed, and forced ways of escape for itself where there were none before. Every now and then this happens in spiritual affairs, and men behold the phenomenon with wonder and even with alarm. It was so in the age of Whitefield and Wesley, when the Lord opened the windows of heaven upon our land. What an outbreak there was! What a commotion and upheaval! The old pavements of conventionality were torn away, and the floods burst up through them. Attempts were made to stop the stream, persecution was tried against the Methodists, they were denounced from the pulpit, threatened by mobs, and ridiculed as modern enthusiasts and madmen, and regarded as the offscouring of all things; but all this availed nothing, omnipotence was at work, and malice could not hinder. The sacred flood would not be denied a channel, but found free course, and God was glorified. Of course it stirred the mad and raised the foulness of the community to most offensive rage; but it cleansed as it rushed forward, and swept away the accumulated vices of dreary years. May the like happen again in our times; indeed, we are not altogether strangers to such burstings forth of the living waters even now.
It were well if in individuals there were such floodings of the soul with the grace of God, that the divine life would break forth everywhere, — in the parlor, the workshop, the counting-house, the market, and in the streets. We are far too ready to confine it to the channel of Sunday services and religious meetings; it deserves a broader floodway, and must have it if we are to see gladder times. It must burst out upon men who do not care for it, and invade chambers where it will be regarded as an intrusion; it must be seen by wayfaring men streaming down the places of traffic and concourse, hindering the progress of sinful trades, and surrounding all, whether they will or no. We want another universal deluge, not of destruction, but of salvation, so that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Would to God that religion were more vital and forceful among us, so as to create a powerful public opinion in behalf of truth, justice and holiness. It will be a blessed day when all the streets of our land shall be flooded with grace. Amos, in the text which we have quoted, bids us aim at this, in the name of the Lord. The formalities of religion are of little worth compared with this; for the Lord says, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” “Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” He would have us exhibit a life which would purify the age, and sweep before it every obstacle; a life to be seen even in the streets, where men care least to have it. It is much to be desired that the Christian church may yet have more power and influence all over the world for righteousness and peace. Something of it is felt even now, but not enough. The Church of Christ in England has more power today than it ever had before. Our country would have been plunged into war months ago (May, 1878), if it had not been for Christian men who have been the backbone of the opposition to the war party. Peace would not have been kept unbroken so long as it has been had it not been earnestly promoted by the prayers and labors of those who worship the Prince of Peace. In other matters, also, of social reform, and moral progress, the influence of true religion is felt, and it will be yet far more mighty. May the day come when the Spirit of righteousness shall have complete control over those who govern and direct our affairs, then shall “judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” All will not go pleasantly even then, for many will be greatly vexed by such prevalence of right principles: their craft will be in danger, they will be greatly inconvenienced in their sins, they will be upon their knees in an element which they do not relish, and they will rave against it; but, for all that, it will be a blessing if God sends us such showers of grace as to become an irresistible flood. Come, mighty stream. Send it we beseech thee, O Lord: and let us live to see Ezekiel’s vision fulfilled. “Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.”