“Behold, the Bridegroom”
“BEHOLD the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
“And at midnight there was a cry made, BEHOLD, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him” (Matthew 25:6).
“BEHOLD, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
The subject tonight is that of the second coming of our Lord. There is a great deal of discredit being thrown upon it by foolish men, professing to be
wiser than the Scriptures.
There are certain people who are constantly fixing a date for the Lord’s return. Time has again and again proved them wrong; yet, all undaunted by their false guesses, they still assume the role of prophets.
Now, whilst we would be the last to discredit their sincerity and Christian character, we believe they are helping on the devil’s work by throwing discredit upon the important subject of the Lord’s return, the personal coming of Christ to catch His people up to be for ever with Himself. Such false prophets are
the laughing-stock of the infidel,
and the grief of all sober-minded Christian men and women. Let us turn to Scripture, and, deaf to the voices of men, learn what God says about this subject. There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament. In all but five of them there are very important allusions to the second return of our Lord Jesus Christ. A recent author has pointed out very clearly the reason of these exceptions. There are three, short, personal epistles in which we do not naturally look for the unfolding of much doctrine, and in them we do not find the second coming of the Lord Jesus mentioned at all. These exceptions are the apostle Paul’s short epistle to Philemon about Onesimus—a runaway slave; the second Epistle of John, addressed to a lady, and consisting of a very few verses; the third Epistle of John, written to Gaius, who had exercised hospitality towards the apostle, equally as brief as his second epistle.
There are two other exceptions—the Epistle to the Ephesians, and the Epistle to the Galatians. The former takes up a very large scope of truth, leading the Christian through the very length and breadth of God’s purposes, detailing
the immutable counsels of his glory,
viewing him as seated “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Seeing that Christians are looked at as raised up and seated together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, one is quite prepared that no allusion should be made to the Lord’s second coming.
Again, it is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Galatians. Why? The reason is very evident. The Galatian Christians were not right about the Lord’s first coming, and what is the good of talking to people about His second coming, when they were not right as to the first? It would not be surprising at all to find a considerable number in this audience, who are not right about the Lord’s first coming. What has the Lord’s first coming done for YOU? Would it have made any difference in your life, if He had never come?
True, you might not have been baptized, but what has that done for you? As far as the salvation of your soul is concerned, absolutely nothing. Baptism communicates nothing vital. The prayer-book of the Church of England talks about an infant being made a child of God by the waters of baptism. The Prayer-Book says it, but
the Bible does not.
Which is right? It is the precious blood of Christ alone that can cleanse from sin; those only who have faith in Christ Jesus are the children of God.
Neither might you have taken the Sacrament. It would have been just as well if you never had, because you are unconverted. Oh my unconverted friend, if you should die with the bread of the Sacrament in your mouth, and with your lips wet with the wine, you would go straight to hell. The Sacrament won’t save you; none but Christ can do it.
Let me ask you, before speaking about the second coming of the Lord, Are you right about the first? What did He come to do? He came to save sinners, in love to die upon the cross. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, looking upon Him as He walked, exclaimed,
“Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world.” Have you yet beheld the Lamb of God? You have read the mere words, but have you beheld by faith, the Person of the Son of God.
People commonly read the Bible in the way that they read history-books. You read that Julius Caesar, many years ago, arrived upon the shores of Britain and conquered that country; that later on Christopher Columbus came across the wide Atlantic, and discovered America, and you believe it, but what has this knowledge done for you? It is historical, it is interesting, it has a result upon the page of history, but has it affected your happiness for eternity? Has it made a straw of difference to your life? You would sleep as soundly if you didn’t know about it. There are thousands of people who read the Bible in the self-same way, and it doesn’t do them a bit of good; nay, it only adds to
the weight of their condemnation.
When they discover that they are poor, lost, hell-bound sinners, when they find out that Christ came into the world to save such, it is then they have a deep interest in the facts of Scripture, and long to have a real, personal interest in Christ, and to know that He is their Saviour.
I remember once visiting a poor woman in England in deep distress. She occupied a small room, for which she paid a shilling per week. Some straw in one corner and a dirty blanket, a beer-bottle with a candle stuck in it—this was
her whole stock of furniture.
A thin alpaca dress, little or no underclothing, a worn-out old bonnet, boots far too big, no stockings—that is how she stood before me.
We got work for her. She was a thrifty Scots woman (the Scots people are very canny), and soon the house looked quite home-like. A chair or two, a table, some matting, a piece of oil-cloth, a fender, some cheerful almanacs from the grocer near by, gave the place quite a home-like appearance. She had been going on like this for some months, supporting herself and her only child. One day I found her, sitting by the fire weeping.
“Whatever is the matter?” I enquired.
She answered, “Well, I have not been feeling well lately. I have had a nasty cough, and had no strength or heart for my work, and so at last I was forced to go to the parish-doctor; he sounded me, and told me that both of my lungs were diseased, and that I had
not long to live.
I wouldn’t mind for myself, but when I think of leaving my child to the care of a cold world like this, I dread it,” and the tears ran afresh down her cheeks.
I turned to her, and said, “Well, Mrs. G—, it is a solemn moment when the doctor puts the death- warrant into your hands. You are a dying woman, tell me what are your hopes for eternity based on? Remember when you come to die, sandy foundations won’t do; what are you trusting to?”
With the tears rolling down her cheeks, yet smiling through her sorrow, she said, “Christ died for sinners; I’m a poor sinner; therefore
He died for me.”
Ah! my friends, there was a deep personal interest in the Saviour, she was right about the first coming of Christ, and she was ready for death, and, better still, prepared for the Lord’s second coming.
“Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread, and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives ‘His own.’”
By way of illustration, let me suppose that I am reading a newspaper, and notice a bold heading, reading thus—
“Large Windfall to a Baltimore Man!”
I am rather interested in this, as I happen to be staying in Baltimore. Reading the paragraph down, I find to my astonishment that this fortune is left to someone who happens to be residing in Carey Street. Well, it is a pretty long street, but still I am more interested, because, as I happen to be staying in Carey Street, it is coming nearer home. I read a little further, and I find it is bequeathed to someone living in No. 1322, North Carey Street; this happens to be the very house in which I am staying. This great fortune, two millions of money, is left to someone living under the same roof as I am, and I become still more interested. Is it my host, or one of his three sons? I read on a little further, and, strange to say, I find it has been left to me.
How will the news affect me? It will make a tremendous influence on my life. Suppose, further, I am in a very hard situation, toiling early and late for three or four dollars a week. On receipt of the news of my fortune, with a light spirit I should hand in my notice to my master. I should bid good-bye to toil and poverty. I should hold up my head, and be independent—it would make a mighty difference in my life.
If you read the Bible like that, if you read that the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, shed His precious atoning blood, and that God offers you
the greatest possible fortune
that He possibly could, even the gift of eternal life, it would make a mighty difference to you. If you knew that the forgiveness of all your sins, salvation, peace with God were yours, what would you do on receipt of the blessed news? Why, you would hand in your notice to the devil—that hard task-master. You would say good-bye to a life of sin and misery, aye, to an empty, Christless religion pretty quickly. It would make a mighty difference to you, if you had a deep personal interest in the Lord’s first coming, and knew that you were everlastingly enriched.
Once a missionary visiting the East End of London stumbled into a damp, dark, noisome cellar. There, in one corner, he found a poor young woman dying of consumption. Evidently she had been once very pretty, but consumption had made sad ravages in her appearance. Her long, black hair was lying dishevelled on her pillow, her eyes closed in the very last stage of the weakness of consumption. She had no friend beside her, no mother, no husband, no child, no friend. She had just a little glass of water by her side.
Accustomed as the missionary was to scenes of wretchedness and poverty, this pitiable spectacle moved his heart in deepest pity. He exclaimed, involuntarily, “Poor soul!” She opened her black, lustrous eyes, and a smile of heaven itself played on her face as she said to him, “Don’t call me POOR, I have Christ, what want I more?”
Ah! friends, she was right. I have stood beside the magnificent tomb of the great Vanderbilt, who in life was reputedly the richest man in the world, in the Moravian cemetery of Van Dort, Staten Island, and repeated that question once asked by
the great Lover of souls,
“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” By the side of that rich man, if he died Christless, this poor woman was a heavenly millionaire, as she joyfully exclaimed, “I have Christ, what want I more?”
But, now, what about the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? When may it take place? It may occur before the clock strikes twelve tonight, before this meeting ends. I am not here to fix the day; if I did so, I should profess to be wiser than Holy Scripture. The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). I am no fanatic, but waiting and watching for my Lord’s return at any moment, through grace. When may the Lord return for His people? This very night. How will it affect YOU?
The parable of the ten virgins will illustrate it. Why does it say “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.” Why does it say, “Then?” In the previous chapter to this, we find a divine account of
the terrible tribulations
about to pass over this guilty world. It is in view of that moment that the kingdom of heaven is said to be likened unto ten virgins. The reason is obvious. Before God visits this guilty world with judgment, the Lord is coming to pluck out of it every blood-bought believer—not one will be left behind. Before the hour of God’s judgment arrives, the five wise virgins, in other words every true Christian, will be caught up to be for ever with the Lord.
Let us look at the parable in detail. We read, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.”
Suppose we could have the ten virgins here tonight, and call in a photographer, and have their photographs taken, could you tell which were the wise, and which the foolish? They all dress alike, carry the same kind of lamp, and are
but, mark you, there is a tremendous and mighty and profound difference between the five and five.
What is the difference? Five have oil and five have none. What is the oil a figure of? It is a picture of the Holy Ghost, of reality. How do people get the Holy Ghost? When you really accept Christ as your Saviour, and believe “the gospel of your salvation,” when you receive from the soul-assuring words of Scripture a knowledge that your sins are forgiven, God gives you His holy Spirit—believers form the temple of the Holy Ghost. What is the result of having the Holy Ghost? The lamp burns brightly, in other words you are enabled by the Spirit’s power to be a real testimony to Christ during the night of His absence, and when He comes, your privilege is to be found waiting and watching, ready for His return.
But we read, five of the virgins had oil, and five had none. Five were real possessors, and five were
five were true and five were false; five had Christ and five were merely religious. Which are you? If He were to come tonight, would it spoil your Christmas pleasures? Oh if He were to come tonight, we Christians would have a grand triumph. We can joyfully sing:—
“I’m waiting for Thee, Lord,
Thy beauty to see, Lord,
I’m waiting for Thee—for Thy coming again.
I’m waiting for Thee, Lord,
Thy beauty to see, Lord,
No TRIUMPH for me, like Thy coming again.”
It would be the very brightest thing for Christians to be in the presence of Jesus; but what about you worldlings, you baptized, sacrament-taking, pleasure-loving professors? What about you oil-less lamp-holders? What about YOU, if the Lord were to come this very night?
there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.” These few verses in Matthew 25 give us an epitome of church history. The church was set up by Christ on this earth. From the glory He Himself established and endowed it. The Holy Spirit descended from an earth-rejected but glory-crowned Saviour to keep the lamp of hope burning brightly in His absence. At first the church kept her first love. She walked separate from the world, that had crucified her Lord. But, alas! soon the enemy was at work. What could not be accomplished by the angry roar of the lion, was encompassed by the wiles of the serpent. Corruption got into the church; empty forms, ceremonies and rituals abounded. Where hope, faith, and love had held their gentle sway, spiritual wickedness soon reigned supreme. Instead of the church being in the world, the world was in the church. The waters of baptism were made to take the place of the precious blood of Jesus. What was the result? “While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”—the profession of Christianity was almost smothered by
the foul breath of Jezebel,
and all down the long ages of Popery you do not find any mention of the Lord’s return; nay, even in the time of Luther, or John Wesley, or George Whitefield, you find no direct unfolding of the truth of the Lord’s personal return for His people. But thank God, He is faithful. In His mercy He has recovered within the last sixty or seventy years this blessed truth—the hope of the church. Jesus has glorified God, and in faithfulness to Him, He will see to it that when the hour of His triumph comes, there will be a response on the part of His church. “The Spirit and the Bride say, COME.”
On all sides, and in every quarter of Christendom a mighty cry has been heard,
“Behold the Bridegroom
cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” The Lord is coming quickly. Are you ready?
To give you a borrowed illustration, suppose we are sitting in an old country farm-house in England. It has been a splendid summer, and it is now early autumn. One night, as we are about to go to bed, we notice thousands of swallows sitting upon the trees and farm-buildings, chirruping and chattering, and making quite a commotion. We wonder what it is all about. Next morning we get up, and look about for the swallows, but they are gone—they have all taken their flight. Ah! if you could have listened to the bird-language of the night before, you would have heard the old ones saying to the young ones, “My children, we must leave this land. The summer is over, the nights are getting cool, there is frost in the air, winter is coming with its ice and snow, its fierce storms and
its wild, wintry blasts.
We must spread our wings early on the morrow, and fly to the sunny south, to the balmy shores of the Mediterranean, to Africa’s golden coast, where there are no storms, no frost, no snow, no wintry blast,” and away in the early morning they go. Oh! sinner, that will be like the Christians one day soon. They will spread their wings for flight. The cry has gone forth, thrilling many an expectant heart, “Go ye out to meet HIM.” And what do we find? That Christians are holding their conferences in England, and their conventions in America, they are getting together here and there, to study from the Scriptures the subject of the Lord’s second coming—the swallows are chattering and chirping and twittering from end to end of this world, and one day you will get up in the morning and there will not be a single Christian left—it may be tomorrow—they will have all gone to glory.
The summer of God’s grace has rolled on its golden way for 1800 years and more. God is sending forth His reapers—the preachers of the gospel—with sharpened sickles, and the harvest is being quickly gathered in. Ah! one after another are being saved, and yet
you are unreached and unsaved.
Take care. Very soon the last golden grain will be gathered in, and the granary of heaven will be full— the Christians gone to glory, and what will be the bitter wail of untold thousands? Listen! “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20).
I have heard it pictured something like this. I don’t know how it is in America, but in Scotland, at the close of autumn, you can see the cornfield reaped, the white stubble close cropped to the ground, the mists rolling down the heather-clad hillside, and a cold, chilly, frosty feeling makes you shiver, and as you gather your cloak around you, you feel that cold, biting winter is riding on the blast. It will be like that—“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” In thought look up and far away. Can you see the heavenly city all glowing with light? Can you catch
the gladsome strains of the heavenly music?
Mark, the door will be for ever closed, the Christians will be inside, the swallows will have taken their rapid flight to the shores of eternal glory, where is no chill of winter, no death, no separation, but where Jesus is all and all, and you, the child of Christian parents—you, over whom a Christian mother has wept—you, for whom a Christian father has prayed, will be left behind to the blast of God’s judgment, and the winter of His wrath. Take care!
When the cry went forth, “Behold the Bridegroom! go ye out to meet Him,” we read, “Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out”—(N.Tr.). The time is hurrying on when profession will be tested, and you will see whether the waters of baptism, and sacrament-taking, and the ostentatious turning-over of new leaves, and the doing the best you can, and giving your money to the poor and to the church, will suffice to keep your lamp burning. Nay, friend, it will go out unless it is fed by oil—unless you have Christ and the Holy Ghost. It will go out and
leave you in darkness,
for ever to wail over your folly.
How do the wise virgins respond? They say, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you, but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” If the Lord were to come tonight the oil in your mother’s lamp would not take you to glory, neither would that of the Christian minister; you must have it for yourselves. Now, mark, these five foolish ones, so nicely dressed, with such splendid up-to-date lamps so well polished, looking so trim and nice, have gone to buy the oil. See! They have hurried to the store, where they think they can get it. They are in earnest now. Listen! “While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage. and the door was shut.” They were too late.
Those words—too late—are awful words connected with your soul, and eternity. You may be too late to catch the last train tonight for Washington, but you may catch the first tomorrow; you may be too late to do many a thing in this life, but you can probably obtain another chance; but, if you are
too late for eternity,
you are too late for ever and for ever; in the lake of fire from the very depths of your anguished spirit will escape these two awful words, “Too late! TOO LATE! TOO LATE FOR EVER!!” Your lamp of profession will have gone out into the blackness of darkness for all eternity.
When the Lord comes, people will wake up. It will be something like this. A drummer (we call them in England “commercial travellers”) had occasion to make journeys into South Wales in the prosecution of his business. One of the places he visited was a small town, whose whole industry consisted of some large iron works. The first time he went there he transacted his business, secured his bed in an hotel, and retired to rest, but he could not sleep. Why? The heavy Nasmyth’s hammers were working all through the night, making the very ground tremble with their thud, thud, thud: sleep he could not. The next time he came upon his rounds, being warned by his former experience, after transacting his business he took train to an adjacent town, where, away from the distracting noise, he slept very well.
But what about the inhabitants of the little town? Did they sleep? Oh, yes! They were
accustomed to the noise of the hammers.
For instance: a little babe is born in the town, and its first experience is listening to the din of the noisy hammers. Its sweet innocent slumber is, however, not even disturbed by the sound; it sleeps on peacefully. So it grows up to childhood; childhood gives place to the prime of life. Time rolls on till the head is hoary, and the back is bent and the eye grows dim, and yet the constant din does not distract the sleeper. He is so accustomed to it.
But one day an accident happened to these works. The machinery was stopped—the hammers ceased—a strange and unwanted silence reigned supreme. When the people went to bed that night, did they sleep? No. The whole town lay awake. Old men and young children, matrons and maidens alike could not sleep. Why? Because of the unusual stillness in the place. Child of Christian parents, that will be just like you, when the Lord comes. Listen! The gospel hammers have been sounding in your ears ever since you can remember. As a child you heard of Jesus, from
the lips of that best of preachers—
a Christian mother. Your father took you by the hand to Sunday School. As you grew older you went to the gospel meetings, and at last you tried to break loose from the restraint of home. Yes, you have heard the hammering of the old gospel time and again until “gospel-hardened” describes your awful position, and you are about the most hopeless person in this hall tonight. You have got it all in your head, and with the knowledge of the way of salvation, you are stumbling over your mother’s tears and your father’s prayers; aye, over the very love of God and the blood of Jesus, right into the pit of hell where the hammering of gospel preaching will give place to the din of the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
And mark this! When the Lord comes, there will be plenty of preachers left to discourse to you moral lectures in the pulpit; but you will have no old-time-gospel preached to you. In that respect there will be a strange, sad silence. You will find no Christian preachers standing at your street-corner—no tract thrust into your hand by the importunity of Christian zeal. Nothing but the chaff will be left. The true, real preacher of the gospel will have gone to glory—caught up by the Bridegroom. Then you will wake up.
It will be something like this. This book, the Bible, which the infidel dares to attempt to pick to pieces today—that keeps abreast of the times—that engages the interest of the most profound intellects of the age—that charms the poet, the essayist, the historian—this book, I say, that has been used by God to the salvation of untold thousands, feeding their souls in the darkest day, making the martyr glad, and the timid bold, and the weak strong, and the dying sing, will be out-of-date for you, when the Lord comes. You may then turn over its pages, and read such blessed words as these:—“NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation,” and you will have to say, in the very bitterness of your soul, “That was true once, but
it is not true now;
the Lord has come; the Christians have gone; the day of salvation is over, there is no more mercy for me.”
Listen! “While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: AND THE DOOR WAS SHUT.” Afterward come the other virgins. They knock at the closed door, and their piercing wail of anguish rings through that closed door to the ears of the Master. He hears their earnest prayer:—“LORD, LORD, open to us,” but no, the door to them is barred for ever. When they might have been saved they laughed; when they might have received the glad tidings of salvation, they turned a deaf ear; but now it is too late for ever; the door is shut in their faces, and there is no more mercy. “I know you not,” is the reply they get from the One, who after waiting in long-suffering patience, has at length risen up and shut the door. Unconverted hearer, “Depart from Me, ye cursed unto everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” will be your awful doom. That word, “Depart,” will smite your ears like the sound of many waters. As you hear
that hope-withering, heart-crushing word
pronounced by the Judge of all the earth, you will pass away into the blackness of outer darkness— damned for all eternity. Oh it is a solemn thing to listen to the gospel of God’s grace. Ever since the Lord Jesus died, God has been preaching peace, and although you are wicked and rebellious, although you are stubborn and won’t believe the gospel, God follows you in His love, still preaching peace, still pressing salvation upon your acceptance.
We read in the Scriptures, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” God follows you with His love. His ambassadors still proclaim pardon to the guilty. But it will not always be thus. Two or three hundred years ago, on the continent of Europe, it was the custom when one country went to war with another, before a single cannon was landed on foreign shores, before a single soldier was despatched on his deadly errand, to recall the ambassador home. For instance, suppose England were going to war with France, before she would send a fleet across the Channel with her soldiers, her ambassador would be recalled from Paris. So long as the Parisians saw the English ambassador walking up and down their streets and boulevards, they would know there was still another chance for peace, diplomatic relations had not altogether ceased, war had not yet been finally decided upon but as soon as be began to pack his portmanteaus and valises and prepared to depart; as soon as he demanded from the French Government his passport wherewith to leave the country, they would know that war had been determined upon. Listen friends, we Christians, whom you despise, are
ambassadors for Christ.
The English ambassador in Paris may live in state and magnificence, he may bear decorations and orders upon his breast, he may have diplomatic honours showered upon him. God’s ambassadors, however, dress generally in a simple, homely way. Look at that old woman, shabbily dressed it may be, going down the street. She is one of God’s daughters, but you would never know it by her dress. Yes; you may despise us Christians. Outwardly there may be nothing to attract, but we walk your streets as ambassadors for Christ, and as long as you see us here, you may be sure there is a chance for you to obtain salvation. One day, however, all the ambassadors will be called home; the Lord is coming quickly, and then we shall all be gone. What will that mean? God has been preaching peace to this world for the last eighteen hundred years, but when the ambassadors are called home, He will declare war. Step up you brazen-faced, stout-hearted sinner and tell me, are you willing to enter into the lists with God Almighty? He will blast you from the cannon’s mouth of His judgment into the eternal perdition of hell. “Prepare to meet thy God.” Meet Him you must, and face Him about your sins, and how you have treated the precious blood of Jesus and the mighty love of God. Ah! He is lingering over you, He cares for you, and yet you have never trusted Him. Take heed! If Christ were to come tonight, the door of salvation would be shut in your face for ever, and there would be
no more mercy for you.
When I was a boy at home my father and mother trained me up in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and I firmly believed them, although not a Christian. I remember how the truth of the Lord’s coming laid hold of me, and how I used to wake up more than once in the middle of the night. Why should I thus wake at the midnight hour? I believe God wakened me to speak to my soul of eternity. On those occasions I used to peer into the darkness, perchance I should see something, and strain my ears in the silence, perchance I should hear something, and the agonizing question would almost overwhelm my heart, and stop its beating, “Has the Lord returned, has He caught up my father and mother and all the Christians, and am I left behind to be doomed for ever?” Well do I remember the despair I was in, and with what relief I found that my parents were still on earth, for I knew then that the day of salvation had not passed.
I praise God that the Lord did not return twenty years ago for I should have been left behind. Some of you in this hall may praise God that He did not return twelve months ago for you would have been left behind. And, sinner, from the bottom of your heart, you may be glad that He has not yet returned, for if He had returned but yesterday, you would have been
There will be no signs given you.
It will be just as in the days of Noah. The wicked did not avail themselves of the refuge offered to the antediluvian world. One day Noah gave his last message. I don’t suppose there was anything to distinguish it from previous messages. For the very last time the careless passers-by heard his earnest words, warning of approaching judgment. For the last time they turned heedlessly and carelessly away. Then one of those most profoundly interesting events, which claim our deepest attention, happened. When God does anything great, sinner, He does it quietly; when man attempts anything great, he makes a great fuss. God said to Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark.” See them quietly go in, and then God, unseen and unnoticed by the careless world, puts His mighty hand upon the door of the ark, and shuts in Noah and his family and
shuts out the unbelieving world
all around. It was done very quietly. The world outside laughed as usual, the bride went to the altars with the bridegroom, the builder went on building his house. We read, “they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day
that Noah entered into the ark and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.”
GOD shuts Noah in, what next? He bids the clouds fall in torrents upon the earth, while with His almighty hand He unlocks the great foundations of the deep, and lets loose the angry waters upon the godless, careless scene. The people flee to the hills and the mountains for refuge. Higher and higher the waters go, carrying upon their broad bosom the ark—the only place of safety—but alas! the door is closed. It may have been that many a scoffer, like
a strong man in his dying agony,
even scratched with his finger nails the very keel of the ark, as he vainly attempted, when too late, to seek its refuge as it was borne past him, and from its very sides may have fallen into the depths of those terrible waters, crying, “I’m lost! I’m lost!” We read: “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Jesus returns quickly, Are YOU ready?
What will make you ready? Answer. Turning over new leaves? Saying your prayers? The tears of the penitent? Your money chinking upon the collection plates? Turning religious? Nay, friend, the foolish virgins may have done all that, and yet they were left behind.
Mere profession won’t do.
What then? You must come as a poor, vile, hell-bound sinner, and trust the blessed Saviour of sinners, bowing to His claims, trusting in His precious blood, confessing Him as Lord, and you will go out of this meeting saved, ready for the Lord’s coming, and if He were to come tonight you would be as ready as the oldest and ripest Christian in this hall, for it is the Saviour’s work—and not our own work—that fits us for that bright home. Will you trust Him?
Mark you, the closing moments of a meeting are the most solemn. Ask yourself Pilate’s question: “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” There must come a crisis in your history, when you must decide one way or the other. Will you decide for Christ tonight? If you do, as you sit upon your seat, joy will take possession of your soul, and the burden of your sins will roll away, and you will be saved for glory, and
saved for ever.
Nay, more, there will be joy in the great throbbing heart of the blessed God, for is there not “joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth?”
I recall an incident, which was related to me, when invited by a lady to dine at her house. She told me she had crossed the Atlantic during the year of the World’s Fair, and after seeing the sights at Chicago, had journeyed out west to see her sons, who had settled in British Columbia. One day, as the train was travelling over the Rocky Mountains, the conductor came to her, and said, “Madam, I will show you something you won’t see every day.” She looked out of the window in a certain direction, and there upon the top of a lofty peak she saw a large iron sign—two large posts, and between them, borne aloft against the sky these three words—“THE GREAT DIVIDE.”
“What does it mean?” she enquired of the conductor.
He answered, “This is the great water-shed of America, and that lofty point is the dividing line between the rivers that flow eastward and westward. A drop of rain which falls from yonder cloud on this side of the divide, will flow westward into the Pacific; another drop, a few feet away in the same cloud, may drop down on the other side of the divide, and flow eastward into the Mississippi, thence into the Gulf of Mexico, and on into the Atlantic—a distance of a few feet in falling from the cloud, resulting in the separation of these two drops of water by thousands and thousands of miles.”
What an illustration of the gospel—
God’s Great Divide!
There may be two sitting here tonight side by side. It may be that you are in the cloud of irresolution. Each may be saying to himself or herself; “Shall I decide for Christ or not?” One of you may say, “Christ for me! As it were, you come down from the cloud of irresolution, and you fall upon the heavenward side of the hill called Calvary, whilst the other says, “No, I shall not trust Him yet,” and you fall upon the hell-ward side of the hill called Calvary. Remember, if such be the case with any two in this company tonight, each tick of the clock, each beat of your heart, each moment is carrying you further, and further, and further apart, until in eternity, one will be in glory with Jesus, and the other in the lake of fire with the devil, and the demons, and the damned. Take care, sinner! Take care! What is your decision to be tonight? Do you say, “Christ for me?” May God grant it!
A poet has drawn a very beautiful picture of a boy and a girl, hand in hand, walking upon either side of a little trickling stream. As they journey on, the little stream grows broader and broader. They are obliged to part hands, still on they go, and the stream grows still wider until it becomes a river. Tributary streams and rivers flow into it, till at length it becomes a mighty surging current; still on and on they go. They call to each other, but at long last, the distance is so great that their voices can no longer carry to each other. They pursue their journey—the distance has now become so great that they cannot even see each other; and presently that mighty torrent rushes into the ocean, and these two are
separated for ever.
The word-picture is very beautifully painted. It is one sketched by a master-hand, but it is inexpressibly sad to me. For see, that boy and girl are just like many a brother and sister starting hand in hand upon the journey of life, one a Christian and the other not. As the years roll by, one goes to the prayer-meeting, and the other to the theatre. They don’t hold hands any longer, the distance increases, grows wider and wider. At last they have grown into manhood and woman- hood, and they are still getting farther and farther apart, and finally in eternity they are separated for ever. Sinner, take care! The gospel is God’s Great Divide, and if you want eternal blessing you must trust in Christ.
Again I repeat my three texts. If unsaved, “BEHOLD the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Trust in the Lord, and learn in simple faith how your sins can be taken away.
If saved, “BEHOLD, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” Be bright for your absent Lord. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord.”
If still indifferent, “BEHOLD, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
Careless sinner, your carelessness and indifference will be but short-lived, for your eye will yet see Jesus—see Him, not as Saviour but as Judge—see Him to receive your awful sentence at His lips. Yes;
“You will see the Judge descending
At that great day.”
“Oh! flee, guilty sinner,
And escape eternal fire,
Or you must stand your trial
At that great day.”
This very night may you do so, for His name’s sake. Amen.