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by Dr. John Thomas
Men in the flesh, therefore, will, I apprehend, believe in the presence of the Lord on earth as its imperial and pontifical Ruler, as nations now believe in the existence and sovereignty of the Autocrat, the Sultan, the Emperor, or the Pope, of whom they have heard by the report of others, but whom they have not seen, and perhaps may never behold.
Men profess now to believe that the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God; but hereafter they will believe that he is "reigning in Jerusalem before his Ancients gloriously"; and their faith if made perfect by works, will, doubtless, as now, be counted to them for righteousness.
But, let the reader observe, that in connection with the warning given, a blessing is pronounced on those who are heedful of the signs of the times.
"Blessed," says Jesus, "is he that watcheth".
Now no one can watch without light.
If the heavens be dark, the watchman must be provided with a light, or he cannot watch.
By gazing at the natural luminaries as some professors are accustomed to do, no light can be derived, nor signs observed premonitory of the coming of the Lord.
This is "the way of the heathen," and "a custom which is vain".
The natural heavens are impenetrably dark in relation to his appearing.
The believer, or spiritual watchman, must rake "the sure word of prophecy," which is the only "light" capable of enlightening him in the surrounding gloom.
This world is "a dark place," and its cosmopolites who understand not the prophetic word, mere embodiments of fog.
If we understand "the word of the kingdom" we shall "shine as lights in the world," and be enabled to rejoice in the approach of "the day of Christ".
By the "shining light of prophecy" we shall be able to interpret the signs which God has revealed as appearing in the political heavens and earth.
Events among the nations of the Roman habitable, and not atmospheric phenomena, are the signs of the coming of the Lord as a thief; whose nature, whether signs or not, can only be determined by "the testimony of God".
From the whole, then, there can be no doubt in the mind of a true believer.
He discerns the sign given under the sixth vial as manifestly, and believes as assuredly that the Lord is at hand as they who observed the sun setting in Syrian splendour knew that the coming day would be glorious.
Be not deceived, then, by the siren-voices of the peace-prophets.
Ere long, the last and most terrible of wars will break out.
The Beast and the False Prophet will be plagued, and the Lord will come as a thief in the night.
Let this conviction work out its intended results.
The blessing is not simply to him that watcheth; but to him that "watcheth and keepeth his garments".
Simply to believe that the Lord is near, and to be able to discern the signs of the times, will not entitle a man to the blessing.
He must "buy gold tried in the fire; and white raiment, that he may be clothed, and that the shame of his nakedness do not appear; and anoint his eyes with eye-salve, that he may see".