By WILLIAM LEASK, D.D.
Instead of the apostasy of Christendom, characterized by daring impiety and atheism, under the leadership of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, popular teaching represents the gradual triumph of the Gospel over every nation tribe, until all mankind shall become Christian, and the Church be co-extensive with the human race.This is picture which the pulpit delights to exhibit, and a very beautiful picture it is. In skilful hands it is sometimes executed with such ingenuity that the moral landscape of the nations seems to laugh before us under the sunlight of spiritual beauty. For imagination, poetry, graphic detail, and bursts of enthusiastic eloquence, it offers an exceedingly fruitful theme. But there is this drawback - it is not true! The Holy Ghost speaketh expressly against it. It is not only not the predicted issue of Christian testimony, so far as the nominal Church and the world are concerned, but that issue is directly the reverse - apostasy, direful wickedness, impiety, blaspliemy, atheism, doom! For mercy spurned, and grace refused, the end of the age is terrible judgment! For disobedience to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the close of the dispensation is characterized by unprecedented wickedness culminating in unparalleled judgments. The day of long-suffering is ended by the wrath of the Lamb.
Responsibility! Merciful Saviour, look upon Thy ministers! What will the deceived people say of them, and to them, when the story of Peace, peace, is interrupted by the uprising of the Man of Sin, and the imperious demand that all shall worship him, and deny the Father and the Son? Sir, you deceived me! You taught me to laugh at the millenarian doctrine. You said that Christ would not come until the end of the world; that the Gospel would convert the nations, and that the idea of a personal Antichrist was a dream, and an absurdity. You deceived me; and now I must either worship this blasphemer or die! Can one, imagine such a speech as this without horror?
But is it really a matter of
revelation that Christians who are looking for the coming of the Lord shall
escape the predicted horrors of the atheistic domination? Our Lord, speaking of the day that shall come
as a snare on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth, says:- Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted
worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man
(Luke 21: 36). This intimation that His watchful [and accounted worthy] disciples shall escape the terrors of the closing
scene, when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (for it is to that period, and not to the destruction of
[* In these Scriptures it is to take as a companion, not seize (for judgment) as it is in Matthew 24: 39, etc.]
The Vials of wrath will not be poured forth until those who wait for the Lord are taken to safety. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3: 10). Most remarkable is this verse, - the word of my patience; what a revelation there is here of the dispensation of grace, and of the certainty that, in consequence of grace rejected, it will end in judgment; and what a proof that to look and wait for the patient, long-suffering Saviour is t he duty and privilege of the [regenerate] believer - an attitude which is to be rewarded by removal from the scene of trial before the Apocalyptic judgments descend upon the earth.
Now if these two momentous truths - namely, that Christendom ends in apostasy, and that those who [are accounted worthy and] wait for the Lord will be gathered lovingly to Himself before the judgment due to that apostasy descends upon the world - were presented to our congregations, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the indifference to the sublime realities of the Gospel, the sleep, the deadness of which the complaint is so lamentably general, would, to a great extent, disappear. The law of Heaven is - Gods blessing on His own truth. A faithful exhibition of that truth, therefore, is the bounden duty of all ambassadors of Christ. The great realities of the Gospel should be presented to men as things wonderfully near, not as things afar off, or cold abstractions concerning what curiosity may speculate. And if the day of grace, the era of divine long-suffering, is rapidly coming to a close; if the Gospel dispensation, like its Edenic, patriarchal, and Aaronic predecessors, is to end in apostasy; and if the new epoch of royal rule by the manifested Messiah, with the Church of the first-born ones as His co-assessors, converted Israel as His ministers of salvation to the nations, and the entire world as His empire, is just about to begin, the necessity of fidelity to Gods revelation, always pressing, is now vehemently imperative.
The great crisis to which all generations and all the purposes of God have been tending is near at hand. To talk now about the respective merits of ecclesiastical systems is a waste of precious time, for they are all doomed to dissolution that the sons of God may be manifested in glory with Him who is at once their Redeemer, their life, their Elder Brother, and their Head. To insist now upon form, and ceremony, and ritual is perfect madness, for the Bridegroom cometh; those who are ready will go in with Him to the marriage, and the door will be shut. We have had trifling enough; let us now be in earnest, and give Christ such a place in our hearts as He never had before, so that the prospect of His coming may fill us with hope and joy!
THE SECOND COMING*
* This is the title given to the poem of the author. Second Adventists are sometimes charged with being pessimists; but here is the second advent of the Rationalist as dread a contrast as coulf be conceived D. M. PANTON.
Some day the last lone man will lie and stare
At death, and know that in him ends the scheme
Of life on earth, that thought itself supreme;
And he will die with no one left to care.
All forms of life that once swarmd anywhere
Will vanish as the memories of a dream,
And the great winds of silence then will stream
Through the vast hollows of the darkend air.
And after this quick life we once calld ours
Has pass'd, will the world travail in some storm
Of restless elements and fill its crust
With breathing earth again: wild beasts and flowers?
And will some curious life in some strange form
Dig down and read this story of our dust?