WHEN the lightning flashes and when the thunder rolls, do we, as it were, hear the Almighty speak in the one, and see a glimpse of his tremendous glory in the other! If, when the clouds pour out water, when the air thunders, and the arrows of his lightning are sent abroad, it is natural for the guilty to tremble, for the just to pray, and for all to look up to him whose voice is thus mighty in operation; where will the ungodly, where will the unbeliever, where will the habitual sinner, appear, when the Lord himself descends from heaven with a shout, a shout that shall unbar the gates of death, recal the scattered dust of all mankind, and wake that dust to life?
May we ever listen to the Almighty when he speaks in thunder, or looks in lightning, and call to mind that awful period when the final trump shall summon us to the bar! may every such season, be improved to this beneficial purpose! And though thunder and other effects are under God, owing to natural causes, and may be accounted for on natural principles; yet let us remember, that natural causes are caused by the God of nature, and that the effects which they produce, are in truth the effects of his all active, all governing providence. And this is the glorious God that maketh the thunder. Such a view of things will render the most obvious events lessons of the highest instruction, and means of spiritual improvement. Thus considered, thunder teaches, and lightning holds the lamp to knowledge: nature becomes subservient to grace, and the laws of the material system direct to heaven.
And should we not aspire to the friendship of that Being, whose voice shakes the earth, and whose eyes are as a flame of fire? Should we not approach his footstool, humbled in the dust of repentance, and trusting in the propitiation of him, who hushed the infinitely more dreadful thunder of divine resentment, and, in his own blood, quenched the lightning of vindictive wrath? Possessed of interest in his availing merit, and conformed, as far as human infirmity will permit, to his blessed example, we need fear nothing. Though the earth was removed, and the hills carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof should rage and swell, and the mountains shake at the tempest of the same; yet, safely anchored on the rock of redeeming merit, and lodged in the arms of God’s everlasting love, we should be equally free both from danger and from dread. Let the inferior thunders grate upon the ear; let sublunary lightnings flash terror on the eye, so we are enabled to take shelter beneath the hiding place of a Redeemer’s righteousness, and his Spirit, in gentlest accents, whispers comfort to the heart. Happy they, who thus dwell beneath the defence of the Most High, who abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and to whom his faithfulness and truth are a shield and buckler!
Augustus M. Toplady, The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, (London: Richard Baynes, 1825), 5:466–467.