"I Am Coming"

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 5



If righteousness is to prevail during the present age, or before the coming of Christ, it is remarkable that He said nothing about it in the long Olivet discourse, containing 97 verses, Matt. xxiv., xxv. On the other hand He plainly says, “Then shall many stumble, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” ‘There is not a line in the New Testament which shows that the gospel is to be preached for the conversion of all nations; and although a large ecclesiastical body recently received with cheers a sneer at the doctrine that it is to be proclaimed in all the world for a witness unto all nations, it was a sneer at the words of our Lord.

So far is it from being true, that light breaks in amid the stumbling, the betrayal of one another, the mutual hatred, the rise of false prophets, the deception of many, the abounding of iniquity, the waxing cold of love, things go from bad to worse until “there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor never shall be.” What then? A period of great spiritual power and progress and prosperity? “IMMEDIATELY after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from -heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. The word translated immediately is so rendered thirty-three times, straightway thirty-two times, and forthwith seven times. The end of the age shall be reached, therefore, through terrible judgments, not through the triumphs of the Church.

“As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left. Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come,” Matt. xxiv. 37-42. The one shall be taken to live for ever with the Lord and the other left to judgment.

“There shall come a night of such wild affright,
     As none beside shall know;
When the heaven shall shake, and the wide earth quake
     In its last and deepest woe.

What horrors shall run over the godless soul,
     Waked from its death-like sleep;
Of all hope bereft, and to Judgment left,
     Forever to wail and weep.

O worldling, give ear, while the saints are near!
     Soon must the tie be riven;
And men, side by side, God’s hand shall divide;
     As far as hell’s depths from heaven.

Some husband, whose head was laid on his bed,
     Throbbing with mad excess,
Awakes from that dream, by the lightning’s gleam,
     Alone in his last distress,

For the patient wife, who through each day’s life
     Watched and wept for his soul,
Is taken away, and no more shall pray—
     For the judgment thunders roll.

The children of day are summoned away;
     Left are the children of night—
Sealed is their doom, for there’s no more room;
     Filled are the mansions of light.”

“Then,”—emphatic, as Dean Alford says, “viz, the coming of the Lord to His personal reign”—‘ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” Dr. David Brown says: “Then—at the time referred to at the close of the-preceding chapter, the time of the Lord’s Second Coming to reward His faithful servants and to take vengeance on the faithless;” and “so essential a feature of the Christian character, according to the New Testament, is looking for Christ’s Second appearing, that both real and apparent disciples are here described as going forth to meet Him.” No doubt all expositors and Christians agree that the ten virgins represent the professed followers of Christ; and hence it is important to notice that, “while the Bridegroom tarried they all nodded and slept.” It is only when the midnight cry is heard, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh,” they awake. The end, therefore, will not find the professing church watching and working.

On another occasion our Lord said, ‘ As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” There is no harm, in itself considered, in that which the people at large are represented as doing, nothing inconsistent with culture, the advance of art, the march of civilisation, or the accumulation of wealth. But there may be utter ungodliness. Look at Berlin, Paris, and all the cities of Christendom. “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Of course He will find faith on the earth, when He calls His waiting ones to meet Him in the air; but when He comes with them, “shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke xviii. 8.

It is the popular belief, even in the Church, that the world is moving on to a splendid future, and that knowledge, freedom, and social order will mark the close of the present age. But Jesus says that at the winding up there shall be “upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Hence he adds the admonition, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare [like that which catches the unwary bird] shall it come on all them that dwell [sitting, settled down] on the face of the whole earth. 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 xxi. 25-36. What He said in the same connection about Jerusalem being trodden down of the Gentiles has been literally fulfilled, despite the efforts of Julian the Apostate, and of the Crusaders; why should not His prediction concerning the condition of the world at the second advent be also literally fulfilled? It would be an insult to the understanding of the reader to suppose that our Lord here refers to anything but His personal coming at the end of the age.

It is needless to say that there is nothing in the epistles to contradict this plain testimony. “This know also, that in the last days perilous [or difficult] times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” 2 Tim. iii. 1-5. If such will be the condition of those who profess godliness, what must be the condition of those who make no profession? Remember that this is the Holy Spirit’s description of the last days. “Knowing this first,” for it is important to know it, “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” 2 Peter iii. 3, 4. The argument of the scoffers is based upon the stability of nature’s laws; and it is a suggestive fact that in our own day more and more is nature, an inanimate and unconscious thing, pushed to the background, and more and more is God pushed to the background, of men’s contemplations. “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be,” Matt. xxiv. 27; and when that lightning’s flash is seen, causing the solid pillars of the globe to shake and tremble, the scoffs of the scientists shall suddenly be changed into skrieks of terror; but this shall be in the last days,

“Though not quite a millenarian,’’ wrote Dr. James W. Alexander of New York, “I was struck with these words of Chalmers to Bickersteth: ‘ Without slacking in the least our obligation to keep forward this great [missionary] cause, I look for its conclusive establishment through a widening passage of desolating judgments, with the utter demolition of our present civil and ecclesiastical structures,’ ’’ Just as the Holy Ghost testifies of Israel, “the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined,” or as it is in the margin, “it shall be cut off by desolations,” Daniel ix. 26, even so the same Spirit witnesses to the ruin of Christendom. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou shalt be cut off,” Romans xi. 22. That the professing Church has not continued in the goodness of God, alas! the most cursory glance will show, and hence she is to be set aside as Israel was, and disowned for her unfaithfulness,

“Yet once again thy sign shall be upon the heavens displayed,
And earth and its inhabitants be horribly afraid;
For not in weakness clad, Thou com’st, our woes, our sins, to bear,
But girt with all Thy Father’s might, His vengeance to declare.

The terrors of that awful day, Oh, who can understand?
Or who abide when Thou in wrath shall lift Thy holy hand?
The earth shall quake, the sea shall roar, the sun in heaven grow pale;
But Thou hast sworn, and wilt not change, Thy faithful shall not fail.

Then grant us, Saviour, so to pass our time in watching here,
That when upon the clouds of heaven Thy glory shall appear,
Uplifting high our joyful heads, in triumph we may rise,
And enter, with Thine angel train, Thy palace in the skies,”