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I AM truly conscious of defects in this work, both great and many, which the critic will discover readily. But let him not be too severe; let him believe, rather, that my object is the spiritual welfare of our fellowchristians; and let him deal with me in that spirit of forbearance which such kind belief so readily begets.
And, I pray Almighty God that He will give His blessing to this little work, and pardon all erroneous dealings with the deeper things of His Inspired Word. May He in mercy grant that both the Writer and the Reader, being strengthened by whatever has been written in accordance with His Will,
may be guided safely through the trying periods which remain of this “Earth’s Eventide,” and be led onwards to the dawning of that glorious Day in which the servants of the Lord, who have been waiting for His Advent, shall shine forth in brightness like the Sun, and dwell before the Throne of the eternal King of Kings, in THE UNCEASING GLORY OF THE NEW JERU
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD.
WATCH AND PRAY, FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD
We have, also, a more sure word of Prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. —2 PETER i. 19. We are told, on every side, that we are living in remarkable times. We read of it in the newspapers; we hear it in our daily conversation; and we feel it to be true. There is, undoubtedly, a rumbling of some extraordinary earthquake, which, growing more and more distinct, forewarns the thoughtful that a crisis of no slight importance is not far in our advance. We see, indeed, the Christian, the unbeliever, the philanthropist, and the politician, all agreeing in the expectation of some gigantic outburst. We find the hearts of men of judgment “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” The eyes of many turn with anxious
gaze towards the observers of the times, the learned, the statesmen, the merchants, and the ministers of the gospel, with the inquiry—“Watchman, what of the night?” But who among the sons of men can satisfy the inquiry? Opinions, various enough, come forth. A rush of many voices gives reply. But who is to be trusted? The only safe
response which any man can give, is this—“It is not
to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power.” Yet, for all this, there is a ray of light, feeble certainly, but not to be neglected, for it comes down directly from that Father's hand of love, and sheds its gentle beam upon this wondrous period in which we live. By this one beam, those men who have the spirit of the Lord can read a word of warning, which diffuses joyful expectation through their willing hearts. That word is, “WATCH AND PRAY, FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD DRAWS NEAR.” This ray of light illuminates, moreover, a few signs and portents, and exhorts, “WHEN THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, THEN LOOK UP AND LIFT YOUR HEADS, FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH.* Now for this gleam let those of us who know the Saviour render praise; and while we read, and watch, and pray, be humble, looking to the Lord submissively, with patient, waiting hearts; behaving ourselves always circumspectly; being well prepared to leave this bondage whensoever our Redeemer's voice shall call us to arise and meet Him.
I know that there are Christians, not a few, who will agree with me that these are times which ought to lead God's people to be much upon the watchtower, forasmuch as many things betoken clearly that the coming of the Lord is near. And, doubtless, there are others who, although, perhaps, they will not go with me so far as this, will yet agree that these are days when things around forebode a crisis which has scarcely known a precedent. I, therefore,
* Luke xxi. 28.
confidently ask for the attention of my brethren in Christ, to the heart-stirring and important subject of those prophecies which concern THE FUTURE OF OUR WORLD, and cast a special light upon the SECOND ADVENT OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR.
Now, inasmuch as these prophecies have been, till lately, studied by so very few, even among really Christian people, I ought, perhaps, before I speak directly upon the subject, to note carefully THE DUTY which unquestionably lies upon every one of us, to give them an attention just as close as that we should afford to any other part of Holy Scripture.
To this duty our text plainly calls attention. Let us observe its language. The “WORD OF PROPHECY" of which it speaks (as we are informed by the twentieth verse) is contained in “THE SCRIPTURES.” It is called a “SURE WORD OF PROPHECY;" MORE sure (as the context also shows us,) than the word which the Apostles spoke when they “made known the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; though they had been eye-witnesses of his Majesty.” Again, it is compared to "a light that shineth in a dark place;' wherefore also the Lord's people are expressly told that they “DO WELL," that they “TAKE HEED" to it. And this, not just occasionally, but "UNTIL THE DAY DAWN, AND THE ARISE IN THEIR HEARTS.”
With our text, then, for a witness, let us behold the Prophecies of Scripture as “A SURE WORD, which we may repose our confidence: not as they are deemed by some, a word to be laid by at once, as
* 2 Peter i. 16.