THE WAILING OF RISCA
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, DECEMBER 9, 1860,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
“Suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.” Jeremiah 4:20.
THE sorrow of the weeping Prophet was exceedingly heavy when he uttered these words of bitter lamentation. A great and present burden from the Lord is weighing so heavily upon our hearts this morning that we cannot spare so much as a moment for sympathy with the griefs of past ages. God has visited our land and His strokes have been exceedingly hard. We are constrained to take up a wailing and cry aloud, “Suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.”
There is a spot in South Wales which has frequently yielded me a quiet and delightful retreat. Beautiful for situation, surrounded by lofty mountains, pierced by romantic valleys—the breathing of its air refreshes the body and the sight of the eyes makes glad the heart. I have climbed its hills, I have seen the ever-widening landscape, the mountains of Wales, the plains of England and the seas sparkling afar. I have descended the hills and marked the mist creeping up the side of the hills and covering the woods in clouds. I have mingled with its godly men and women and worshipped God in their assemblies.
These lips have ministered the Word in that once happy valley. I have been fired with the glorious enthusiasm of the people when they have listened to the Word. Well does my soul remember one night which I shall never forget in time or in eternity, when, crowded together in the place of worship, hearty Welsh miners responded to every word of Christ’s minister with their “gogoniants” encouraging me to preach the Gospel and crying “Glory to God” while the message was proclaimed.
I remember how they constrained me and kept me well nigh to midnight, preaching three sermons one after another, almost without rest—for they loved to listen to the Gospel. God was present with us and many a time has the baptismal pool been stirred since then by the fruit of that night’s labor. Nor shall I ever forget when standing in the open air beneath God’s blue sky I addressed a mighty gathering within a short distance of that spot. The Spirit of God was poured upon us and men and women were swayed to and fro under the heavenly message as the corn is moved in waves by the summer winds. Great was our joy that day when the people met together in thousands and with songs and praises separated to their homes, talking of what they had heard.
But now our visitation of that neighborhood must ever be mingled with sorrow. How has God been pleased to smite down strong men and to take away the young men upon a sudden! “How suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.” Oh, valley of Risca, I take up a lamentation for you—the Lord has dealt sorely with you. Behold and see if there is sorrow in any valley like unto your sorrow which is done unto you. The angel of death has emptied out his quiver upon you.
The awful reaper has gathered to himself full sheaves from your beautiful valley.
You all know the story—it scarcely needs that I should tell it to you. Last Saturday week some two hundred or more miners descended in health and strength to their usual work in the bowels of the earth. They had not been working long—their wives and their children had risen and their little ones had gone to their schools when suddenly there was heard a noise at the mouth of the pit—it was an explosion—all knew what it meant. Men’s hearts failed them, for well they prophesied the horror which would soon reveal itself.