"I Am Coming"

By James H. Brookes




The judgments of God were gathering like a great storm over His people when this taunting question was asked by their enemies. The prophet from his watchtower sent back the calm reply, “The morning cometh, and also the night. If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come,” Isaiah xxi. 12. As often as ye inquire, so often ye shall receive the same response. The morning cometh for the saints, however deep the gloom that surrounds them now; the night cometh for sinners, however bright the sky that bends above them at present. This brief statement settles human destiny, and sums up human history. To those who receive Christ, His coming “shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. Just as surely, those that know not God, and that obey not the gospel, are journeying to “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness,” Job. x. 22.

A vast majority of the preachers and professors and periodicals of the church insist that “the world is growing better.” They harp upon it continually. One hears it in almost every social circle, and reads about it almost daily, until sick and tired of the combined ignorance and superficial view which lead to such a conclusion. The judgment is formed by contrasting the present with, say, two hundred years ago; and because education is more widely diffused, because public school houses are found everywhere, because telegraph and telephone wires girdle the earth, because manufacturies are established, because science makes progress and art flourishes, because the scoundrels are not punished with the swift and terrible penalties that formerly overtook them, because prisons are handsomely fitted up for their entertainment, because society puts on the thin whitewash of refinement and respectability, instead of displaying the brutal and vulgar vices of former years, shallow thinkers leap to the hasty inference that the world is growing better.

But in the first place, how can the world, by which, of course, is meant the unbelieving portion of mankind, grow better? Let the Christian reflect for a moment, and he will see how absurd is the statement constantly made. The mind of the flesh, that is, the world, “is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,” Rom. viii. 7; is that which is enmity against God growing better? ‘The whole world lieth in the wicked one,” 1 John v. 19; is that which lieth in the wicked one growing better? ‘The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive,” John xiv. 16; is that which cannot receive the Spirit of truth growing better? ‘Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you,” John xv. 19; 1s that which hates the followers of Christ growing better? ‘I pray not for the world,” John xvii. 9; is that for which Jesus does not pray growing better? ‘All the world may become guilty before God,” Rom. iii. 19; is that which is guilty before God growing better? ‘The world by wisdom knew not God,” 1 Cor. i. 21; is that which knows not God growing better? “That we should not be condemned with the world,” 1 Cor. xi. 32; is that which is condemned growing better? Every Christian is exhorted to “be not conformed to this world,” and ‘to keep himself unspotted from the world,” Rom. xii. 2; James i. 27; not conformed to that which is growing better, to keep himself unspotted from that which is growing better?

In the second place, not only would it be as wise to speak of sin growing better, or the devil growing better,, as to talk of the world growing better, but those who claim that the last is growing better seem to be singularly blind to the fact that the march of improvement in man’s social and outward condition does not in the least change his nature. Who exhibit the most bitter and unrelenting hostility to God and to His truth? Men of eloquence, and genius, and learning, like Darwin, and Huxley, and Herbert Spencer, and Ingersoll, and the great mass of philosophers and scientists. If culture is causing the world to grow better, how is it that the most godless and wicked cities on earth are Paris and Berlin, the source and centre of the noblest intellectual progress and prowess?

In the third place, the statistics are against the nearsighted optimists, who fan themselves with the perfumed delusion that the world is growing better. -It is admitted that 12,000,000 more are born into the world every year than die out of it; and that every one of the 12,000,000 must be born again to enter the kingdom of God; and that at least three-fourths of the 12,000,000 are born in Pagan or Mohammedan lands; and that not 1,000,000 are converted in a year; so that the church is not keeping pace with the growth of the world. But the optimists tell us from the figures that one of every two or three men and women in the United States is a member of some evangelical church; whereas the fact is that not one in ten of any community can be induced to attend church at all. The census has been taken of those who attend public worship in the principal cities f Great Britain and this country, and in every instance there has been a decided decrease during the last ten years. Surely no intelligent observer or reader needs to. be told that the church does not begin to keep pace with the growth of the population in any leading city in the land, nor can he fail to see with alarm the rapid spread of infidelity and unchecked worldliness in the church, and of crime on the outside.

What will the man who thinks the world is growing better do with the item going the rounds of the secular press, uncontradicted, that while the population of New York and its suburban cities increased 30 per cent. in the past decade, crime has increased 300 per cent.? Or what will he do with the boast of a New Orleans paper, that the slaughter of a lot of imprisoned Italians by a mob produced a salutary effect, and then adds, “The arrests in New Orleans in 1891 numbered 23,449, or more than g per cent. of the population?” Or what will he do with the testimony of Major M‘Claughry, Chief of Police in Chicago, who says, “The biggest burden society bears to-day is crime,” and then shows “that with every “25 per cent. increase ‘f American population, there is 40 per cent. increase in crime, that is of crime as catalogued in the number of convicts for jails and penitentiaries.”

A widely circulated religious newspaper, whose editor probably never heard of the coming of the Lord, declares in a recent issue, “It is no credit to our institutions to put forth such a record of blood as is presented by the statistics of 1891. Indeed, it is enough to cause a blush of shame to learn that the murders committed in the United States during the last year numbered 5,906, or an. increase of 1,616 over 1890, and of 3,339 over 1889. ‘. Yet with such a record of murder, we learn that only -123 legal executions took place during the year. Nor is the record of self-murder much less dismal than that of homicide. According to the Chicago Tribune they numbered 3,331, an increase of 691 over 1890.” A prominent Judge asserts that 3,000 murders must be added to the 5,906, to include those that escaped detection.

In the fourth place, let those who whistle against the wind of the gathering tempest go down among the labouring classes, as they are called, or consult any intelligent builder and contractor he may chance t6 meet, and he will soon learn how vindictive is the feeling of the working men against the “aristocrats,” and especially against the church. The great mass of them belong to “Unions” that rule them with a rod of iron, and they quit work at a moment’s notice from the tyrant that controls them, like unthinking machines. They demand and receive ten hours pay for eight hours service, and the extra two hours are not spent with their families, or in self-improvement, as many believe, but in groggeries to drink and gamble, and blurt out their obscenity, and profanity, and hatred of the rich. There is no occasion for an uprising now, but let a time of real financial distress come upon the land, and no man’s life or property will be safe, except under the protection of soldiers, and not even then in a Republican government. M

Those who imagine that Republicanism is a panacea for all the ills of mankind, might cease their optimistic twaddle long enough to glance at Chili, Brazil, Mexico, France, Nicaragua, Hayti, of which last lovely Republic Frederick Douglas, the late Minister from this country, is reported to have said, “Any city on the Island may appear in its beauty in the evening, and be found in ashes the next morning.” Or let them glance at our own favoured Republic, where. 30,000 men were turned out of office in one year, not for any personal dereliction in duty, but merely “to strengthen the party” in power, and let them lay to heart a recent remark of the secretary of the Navy, “a dispute over a Presidential election might easily plunge our country into the vortex of a South American revolution.”

In the fifth place, cast a glance over the world, as any one may do every day through the morning newspapers. What an alarming state of affairs confronts the beholder everywhere! ‘Ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars,” Matt. xxiv. 6. Even the higher critics must admit that the Lord Jesus Christ was not a prophet “limited by the horizon of His own view.” We hear of wars and rumours of wars continually. All Europe is ‘bristling with bayonets, and the repeated attempts of Nihilists in Russia to assassinate the Czar, and the howling of a mob before the palace of the Emperor in Berlin, and the ominous threats and ever increasing strength of the Socialists, make the powers that are ordained of God fear and tremble, proving the utter incapacity of man for self-government, either under Monarchies or Republics, until the King comes. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” ‘Truly the great Prophet was not limited by the horizon of His own view, but was foretelling precisely what is coming to pass at this day. ‘And many false prophets shall rise, and deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Here too He exactly predicts what is transpiring under our own observation, and thus it will be unto the end, when the gospel of the kingdom shall have been “preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.”

In the sixth place, false prophets are now abounding, and “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The Christian Advocate, the organ of Northern Methodism and the most widely circulated religious journal in the country, very ably edited by a man who apparently thinks nothing of our Lord’s coming, has recently said, ‘We are approaching a crisis in Church life. Gradually, but surely, disregard for the Bible, for the Sabbath, for the Church, and for God, is taking possession of the minds of Christians. . . . Teachers, whose reputation for scholarship gives them wide influence, give it as their opinion that the Bible is not inspired at all, except as other great books are inspired. This poison has penetrated all our churches. The virus of scepticism has entered pulpits in our own denomination.” Yes, and the writer might have added that it has entered the pulpits of all denominations. So that it is difficult to find a preacher who will stand up faithfully and fearlessly for the Word of God.

On the other side of the sea Prof. Driver, Prof. Dods, Prof. Drummond, Prof. Bruce, Prof. Cheyne, Prof. Smyth, Prof. Davidson, Prof. Kennedy, treating the blessed Bible as they would a fairy tale; and on this side Prof. Briggs, Prof. Harper, Prof. Brown, Prof. Vincent, Prof. Smith, Prof. Allen, Prof. Schurman, Prof. Workman, Prof. Grant, Prof. Evans labouring to point out its errors and mistakes; until one is astounded by their audacity. Now comes Prof. Duff with his volumes on Old Testament Theology, which, according to Word and Work, contain the most monstrous” heresies, assailing, as Principal Cave has shown, the very idea of a divine revelation, claiming that every man is inspired in like manner with the prophets, and that the Christ of the first century spoke the language of the first century. The opinion of the present Christ on every question is to be ascertained, not from His words, but from the thoughtful voice of His present body.” Yet this nonsense and blasphemy Dr. Joseph Parker enthusiastically applauds, saying, “he is in very deed the greatest, grandest preacher I have sat under for many a day. In my view this is absolutely perfect preaching. . . . I have found it to be an inspiration and a mighty stimulus to thought.”

The fatal infection has spread even to good men A few years ago no one stood higher in the estimation of Christians than Rev. Hay Aitken, who preached as an evangelist with great power and acceptance both in Great Britain and in this country. He has published a letter in defence of Higher Criticism in which he says, “You are not surprised that Christ, in His manhood, was not the equal of Newton in mathematical knowledge; why should you be surprised if He prove not to have been. the equal of Wellhausen in literary criticism?” That Mr. Aitken permitted himself to write such horrible blasphemy shows how far he has drifted away from God and the Bible; and it is to be feared that he represents a large and increasing class of preachers, who were once the honoured servants of the Lord Jesus.

In the seventh place, the Revenue Office in ‘Washington City proves conclusively an enormous increase in the consumption of spirituous and malt liquor in the United States, notwithstanding the earnest efforts of temperance leagues A leading temperance paper said the other day, ‘The official report of the commissioner of Internal Revenue is highly discouraging to the advocates of temperance, as the following figures attest:—In the fiscal year 1889-90 there were produced 111,101,738 gallons of spirits, an increase over the preceding year of 19,958,188 gallons, and 27,561,944 ‘barrels of beer, an increase over the preceding year of 2,442,091 barrels. The number of gallons of spirits gauged was 342,175,208, an increase of 35,257,741 gallons, while the number of distilleries operating was 6,211, an increase of 1,862.” Le Petit Journal, the most largely circulated of Parisian daily newspapers, its sales averaging more than 900,000 copies daily, makes the following statement:—

It has been said with truth that, of all the dangers menacing our agricultural population at the present day, the gravest and most difficult to fight against is alcoholism. No one can have been a resident of a country district without being struck with the development of this scourge during the last few years, the deplorable effects of which are everywhere visible. The habit of saving, that was so long the strength and glory of our tillers of the soil, is gradually disappearing. The money box of the liquor-seller swallows up, sou by sou, the wages that formerly in the form of silver pieces, were hidden away in some corner of the clothes press, to be brought out when enough was accumulated to buy a little piece of ground. The peace and harmony of families is seriously impaired. . . . This guzzling of spirits (and what spirits! for the country tavern-keepers hesitate not to sell the most frightful mixtures for gain) is not a rare occurrence. Repeated daily, it becomes pernicious in the last extreme. The agricultural labourer is only willing to work for the sake of procuring the pleasures of new carousals, Deprived of liquor, he is stupid and brutal; when drunk, he is transformed into a savage beast.

The same thing is true of the world at large as shown by the Gambrinus, the organ of the Austrian brewers and hop-growers, and the acknowledged authority on the subject. ‘The total quantity of beer brewed in 1890 was 1,956,000,000 hectolitres, or 92,834,000,000 gallons {which gives about 60 gallons to every man, woman and baby in the world], whereas in 1889 it was only 1,736,000,000 hectolitres.” The same thing is true of countries where, until recently, drunkenness was rarely seen. It was a frequent remark by Americans visiting France a few years ago, that while the drinking of cheap wines was universal, no one got drunk. But this can be said no longer. Two breweries in our own country, one in Millwaukee and one in St. Louis, it is officially announced, made and sold 1,392,960 barrels of beer in 1891.

The world getting better! It is actually retrograding in many respects, for as compared with twenty-five or thirty years ago any one can see that there has been a frightful increase of infidelity in the pulpit, of worldliness in the pew, of desecration of the Lord’s day among professing Christians, of crime and licentiousness throughout the country at large, enough to excite the gravest apprehensions of thoughtful minds. Apart from the plain and repeated testimony of the Word that “in the last days perilous times shall come,” 2 Tim. iii. 1, the outlook in every direction is such that we can find hope only in the promise, “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry,” Heb. x. 37.

The foregoing Appendix was written in 1891, and it may be well to notice what has been accomplished toward the betterment of the world in the for succeeding years. The Chicago Tribune, which keeps an accurate record of the crimes committed in the country, presents a tabulated statement that furnishes suggestive reading. Briefly, the suicides have increased during the last five years from 2,224 to 4,912 in 1894, more than double, while no one will pretend that the population has doubled in that time.” ‘The amount of money stolen by embezzlers, defaulters, &c., for the year is the highest in the history of the country, reaching the sum of over 5,000,000. The number of murders shows a startling increase, reaching for the year, 9,800, which is fifty per cent higher than the previous year,” and nearly three times as many as five years ago.

Nor is it much better in England. A recent number of The Christian gives the statement on competent authority: ‘In all his sixty-two years’ experience he had never met with such appalling instances of drunkenness among men and women of the upper and middle classes as during tie last three years,” To this the editor adds: ‘A friend pointed out to us within this last week a district in the North of England where several neighbouring estates had passed out of the possession of families through the owners indulging in drink. The same sad tale is told everywhere.” It is needless to speak of the frightful and unspeakable vices, which a recent trial has unfolded among literary and titled victims of the vilest heathenism.

Ah, brethren, do not dismiss these frightful facts and figures with a smile or sneer, but awake from your optimistic delusion to face the appalling dangers that threaten the church and country. You will doubtless reply that you have faith in man, and like Casimir-Perier, the late President of the French Republic who resigned his office in disgust, you may say, "In spite of the gloom of the present hour I have faith in the future of social progress and justice;” but consider whether your faith is founded on the history of the past, on the state of the present, and above all, on the word of God.


“In a Moment.”

They tell me a solemn story,
     But it is not sad to me,
For in its sweet enfoldings
     The Saviour’s love I see!
They say that at any moment
     Upon mine ear may fall
The summons to leave our homestead
     To answer the Master’s call.

They say I may have no warning,
     I may not even hear
The rustling of His garments
     As He softly draweth near.
Suddenly, and in a moment,
     The Lord of life may come
To lift up from this cloud-land
     Into the light of Home.