Knowing the Time
James Smith, 1860
Knowledge is valuable, just in proportion as it bears on our own circumstances and cases, and is likely to influence and regulate our conduct aright. We can do very well without the knowledge of many things; and the knowledge that would be highly useful to some, would be of little importance to others. But there are some things we must know as sinners — or perish; and there are some things we must know as believers — or be comparatively useless. It is highly important that we know the time — for every time brings with it its duties and responsibilities. The present time, the time in which we live, is a peculiar time, and it befits us to know it. To know it, so as to improve it. To know it, so as to perform the duties belonging to it. To us therefore, as well as to the Romans, Paul would say, "Knowing the time." Romans 13:11.
The peculiarities of the present time are solemn and affecting.
It is the time of Satan's power. He seems to have come down with great power, knowing that he has but a short time. What life and energy has he infused into the old popish superstition, and what a stepping-stone to popery has he provided in Puseyism! What power has he imparted to various forms of infidelity, leading captive multitudes at his will. With what craft and subtlety he introduced the licentious and beastly system of Mormonism, ensnaring thousands of our peasantry, and others. Satan is active — never more so. He is energetic — never more so. He is determined to destroy man, dishonor God, and show his enmity against the Lord Jesus — never more so. It befits us therefore, to know the time.
It is the time of the world's danger. Never were sinners in greater danger than now. Every species of error is afloat. Every means to destroy men's souls is plied. Millions are asleep in superstition, and millions are indifferent as to their souls and eternity. The spirit of a deep sleep has fallen upon the masses, and they are like a man sleeping on the edge of the crater of a volcano; or like a man sleeping on the top of a mast, when a terrific storm is rising. Myriads are deluded, by various errors and evil influences; and the rest are at enmity against God, or enraged against his truth.
It is the time of God's forbearance. God's Justice now rests on its glittering sword. Grace is authorized to confer salvation. Mercy is active, warning and inviting souls to escape from danger.
It is the day of salvation. Salvation may be had. It is pressed upon our attention, it is urged on our acceptance. Whoever will, may now come, and receive and enjoy all the blessings of grace and glory.
It is the time of the Church's duty. It is working time, and we should work while it is day. It is evening time, for the day is far spent, and the night is at hand. It is therefore precious time. Time that we should value, employ for the most important purposes, and redeem for God's service and praise. It is singular time, never were there so many calls to duty, so many facilities to aid us in the work, so many encouragements to throw the whole heart into the cause of God, consequently never was there a time that laid the Lord's people under such deep and solemn responsibility. Lord, teach us to know the time, that we may seize it, improve it, and win laurels while it lasts!
"Knowing the time!" We do so partly from God's Word, which tells us what will occur, and what will mark the last days. We do so from observation, wars and rumors of wars, the abounding of errors and heresies, evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived — prove that perilous times have come. And then, the wonderful outpouring of the Spirit of God, by which such thousands are converted and brought to Christ, shows plainly that we are living in the last days.
Our knowledge should be improved. We should embrace every opportunity of displaying our courage for God, our activity in the cause of Christ, and our love to immortal souls. We should stir up others, provoking to love and to good works, and stimulating them to engage in the glorious enterprise. We should employ every talent, use every means, put forth every effort — to save souls from eternal death, because we know the time.
Brethren, remember the time must he short. Jesus will soon come, or if not — he will send death to arrest our course, and call us home. We cannot be where we are, and as we are, for long. The end will be solemn. Most solemn will the end be. The dispensation will end in judgment, and our day will end with standing before the judgment-seat of Christ, that we may receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.
Oh, the thought of the great white throne, the judge whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and the reward according to works — should make us serious, energetic, and entirely devoted to God! We should therefore be wakeful — let us not sleep as do others. We should be watchful — for we know not when the time of the Savior's appearing is. We should be laborious — for labor for God and souls is confined to earth, and is limited by time. At death, we rest from our labors, and our works will follow us. We should be liberal — giving to God's cause and the poor, in proportion as he has given to us.
Knowing the time, let us be thorough Christians — let us be diligent and devoted laborers — let us buy up every opportunity for usefulness, because the days are evil.
Lost sinner, do you know the time? It is the time given you to secure a saving interest in Christ, to flee from the wrath to come, and to obtain salvation from free grace. It is your time, and the only time you will ever have. Neglect this, trifle with this, squander this — and you are undone forever! You are lost, and lost by your own fault. You die a suicide, and perish by your own hands!