THE SECOND COMING
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will
come and will not delay.'" Hebrews 10:37
"Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with
him." Revelation 16:15
The Redeemer's Advent! a scriptural assurance full of
rest and peace, but which can be felt and realized only by those who are
conscious of sitting now under His shadow as the true Heavenly Palm. In
other words—the elevating prospect of the Savior's second coming in
glory can be enjoyed only by those who know, in their individual experience,
the blessedness connected with a genuine and unswerving reliance on the
first coming in humiliation. When the latter truth is fully appropriated
and exulted in, no theme can prove more tranquillizing or refreshing. "I
wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul
waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than
watchmen wait for the morning" (Ps. 130:5, 6).
The reference in the second of these motto-verses may be
the simple and ordinary one, of a man, unmindful of all danger, lying down
to sleep with his garments carelessly cast aside; the thief suddenly enters
his chamber, takes forcible possession of his clothing, and leaves him naked
and defenseless. Or more likely, according to the commentator Lightfoot, the
allusion may be to a Jewish custom in the service of the Temple of
Jerusalem. Twenty-four wards, or companies, were appointed night by night to
guard the various entrances to the sacred courts. One individual was
appointed as captain or 'marshal' over the others, called the "Man of the
Mountain of the House of God." His duty was to go round the various gates
during the night to see that his subordinates were faithful at their posts.
Preceded himself by men bearing torches, it was expected that each wakeful
sentinel should hail his appearance with the password, "You man of the
mountain of the house, peace be unto you!" If through unwatchfulness and
slumber this were neglected, the offender was beaten, and his garments were
burned—he was branded with shame for failure of duty.
It was in contrast with these slumbering Levites, that
the Lord of the Temple may be supposed to pronounce a blessing on His true
people, who keep their garments, and are saved from reproach. Their attitude
is that of wakeful sentinels, ever standing on their watchtower, pacing
their rounds; having on the whole armor of God, "the armor of righteousness
on the right hand and on the left," so that "being clothed, they may not be
found naked" or "ashamed before Him at His coming."
We repeat, that Second Advent of Christ ought, at
least in the case of all His true people, to be regarded by its apostolic
name as "The Blessed Hope," the polar star in the sky of the future.
It is true, indeed, that in one sense, to the believer, death is
equivalent to the coming of his Lord, as being the hour which will usher him
into His immediate presence. But death is never spoken of in Scripture as a
'blessed hope.' Even the Christian holds his breath as the King of
terrors passes by. He may be ready to 'depart' whenever his Lord gives
the word; he may be ready to enter the dark valley, and under the guidance
and grace of the Shepherd-Leader, he may fear no evil; but it is a dark
valley notwithstanding. The gloomy cypress, not the verdant palm—the tear
and the sable mourning, have ever formed the associations and accompaniments
of the final hour and scene. It is altogether different, however, with
Christ's Advent. That is a joyous anticipation. The believer can long for
it—can pray for it. "Make no tarrying, O my God." "Make haste, my Beloved,"
is his cry underneath this gracious palm-shadow—"be like a gazelle, or like
a young stag on the spice-laden mountains!"
Nor let us suppose that this watching is some fantastic,
transcendental frame of mind, which divorces the Christian from daily work
and duty. These vigils may be best kept, not in confined seclusion. He
watches most nobly and truly, who does so, not by removing himself from
life's rough drudgery and needful calls; but who, in the midst of the
ordinary vocations of the world, among the fever and turmoil of busy
existence, can catch up the joyous chimes wafted to the ear of faith from
the bells of glory.
Let these inspired utterances be ever ringing their
varying magnificent melodies in our ears—"In just a very little while, He
who is coming will come and will not delay." "I will come back, and take you
to be with Me." "A little while, and you shall not see Me, and again a
little while and you shall see Me." "The end of all things is near.
Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." If we
expected a long absent brother or friend from a distant land, how careful
should we be in our preparations to give him welcome! How house and hall
would be cleaned and adorned! How would creativity be taxed to decorate his
room with every tribute which fond affection could devise! How careful to
erase every association or memory of sadness, and prevent the occurrence of
one note of discord or disharmony that would mar the joy of that glad
return! How should it be with us in the prospect of welcoming the Brother of
brothers! How should the home of every heart be "swept and garnished,"
decorated in best holiday attire, to give the long-absent Lord love's most
Every day is bringing that Advent nearer, lessening the
span of that rainbow of promise. "The little while and you shall not
see Me" is widening; the "little while and you shall see Me" is
diminishing. The Church is like the shipmen in the Adriatic Sea, who "sensed
they were approaching land." The historian of Columbus speaks thus of the
great discoverer's approach to the shores of the unknown New World—"The
admiral gave orders that the sails should be close-reefed and the lead kept
going, and that they should sail slowly, being afraid of shoals and
breakers; feeling certain that the first gleam of daybreak would discover
land under their bows." Is this true in a nobler sense of "the Better
Country"? Are we thus on the outlook to "see the King in His beauty, and the
land that is very far off"?
Let each new month, new week, new day, each recurring
providential dispensation add new power to the summons—"Awake, awake! put on
your beautiful garments!"—"Prepare to meet your God, O Israel." So that when
the hour of the Second Advent shall strike, when "the Lord shall come, and
all His saints with Him," we may be able to exclaim with rejoicing—"Surely
this is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. This is the Lord, we
trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." "Blessed
are those servants whom the Lord, WHEN HE COMES, shall find
"It may be in the evening,
When the work of the day is done,
And you have time to sit in the twilight
And watch the sinking sun,
While the long bright day dies slowly
O'er the sea,
And the hour grows quiet and holy
With thoughts of ME!
"It may be when the midnight
Is heavy upon the land,
And the black waves lying dumbly
Along the sand;
It may be at the cock-crow;
When the valley-mists are shading
The river's chill,
When the morning star is fading,
Fading over the hill.
Let the door be on the latch
In your home;
In the chill before the dawning,
Between the night and morning,
I may come!
"It may be in the morning
When the sun is bright and strong,
And the dew is gleaming beauteous,
The meadow slopes among,
When the waves are laughing loudly
By the shore;
And the birds are singing sweetly
By your door.
It may be in the morning I will come!
"A gentle shadow fell across
The window of my room;
While working my appointed task,
I calmly turned me round to ask,
'Is He come?'
An angel whispered sweetly
In my ear:
'Lift up your head rejoicing—
HE IS HERE!'"
"Even so! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"