The Closing Days Of Christendom: Part 1

Part 1
I have just been thinking how the great apostate systems, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are destined to advance in strength and magnificence, as their day of doom and judgment approaches. Witness the condition of the Woman in Rev. 18; and that of the Beast in Rev. Chapters 13 and 19.
And I ask, is not this present moment, through which we are passing, giving pledges of this? Do we not see the great apostate ecclesiastical system advancing to occupy itself of the world, with something of giant strides?
And is not the world, as a civil or secular thing, spreading itself out, in improvements and attainments, and cultivation of all desirable and proud things, beyond all precedent? Are not these things so, beyond the question of even the very least observant? And are they not pledges that all is now on the high road to the full display of the Woman and of the Beast, in their several forms of greatness and grandeur, which are, thus, according to God's Word, destined to precede their judgment? These things, I own, are very plain and simple to me.
But again I ask-is there any notice in God's Word, that the saints or the Church are to rise to any condition of beauty or of strength befitting them, ere the hour of their translation come? The apostate things, as we have seen, are to be great and magnificent just before their judgment-but, I ask, is the true thing to be eminent in its way, strong and beautiful in that strength and beauty that belong to it, ere its removal to glory? This is an affecting inquiry. What answer do the oracles of God give us?
Paul, in 2nd Timothy, contemplates "the last days," in their perilous character, and the ruin of the Church, which we have seen, and do see at this day, all around us. But what condition of things among the saints does he anticipate as following that ruin? I may say with all assurance, he does not contemplate the restoration of the Church's order as a whole, any rebuilding of God's house, so to speak, any recovery of corporate beauty or strength worthy of this dispensation; but he exhorts those who find themselves in what has become as a "great house," if they would be vessels unto honor sanctified and meet for the Master's use and prepared for every good work, to purge themselves from the vessels unto dishonor, and follow the virtues and cherish the graces which become them, calling on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Peter, in his 2nd Epistle, contemplates "the last days" also, and very unclean abominations among professors, and very daring infidel scorning of divine promises in the world. But he gives no hint that there will be restored order and strength in the Church, or in corporate spiritual action as a whole; but enjoins the saints to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, and to be assured that the promise of His coming and majesty is no cunningly devised fable. He speaks to them of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom, but not of a return to a restored order of things in the Church on earth.
Jude, also, in like manner, anticipates "the last time," and many terrible corruptions, such as "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness." But what then? He promises nothing in the way of restored beauty and consistency as in earlier days, but encourages the "beloved" to build themselves up on their most holy faith, to pray in the Holy Ghost and to keep themselves in God's love; but he is so far from encouraging any hope of recovered order and strength in the Church on earth, that he tells them to be looking for another object-"the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
John, in his way, gives us the judgment of the seven Churches in Asia, in Rev. 2 and 3. It is a very solemn scene. There is some good and much evil found in the midst of them. The voices of the Spirit, heard there, have healthful admonitions for us, both in our individual and gathered condition. But there is no promise that the judgment will work correction and recovery. The Churches are judged, and they are left under the judgment; and we know no more of them on earth; the next sight we get of the elect is in heaven. (See chap. 4)
All this is serious and yet happy; and all this is strikingly verified by the great moral phenomena around us, under our eye, or within our hearing, at this moment. For we know that the great apostate things, the things of the world, whether civil or ecclesiastical, are in the advance, ripening to full bloom of vigor and of beauty, while we see the true thing broken, enfeebled, and wasted in no wise promising to regain what once it had in days of corporate order and power.
But it is well. It is gracious in the Lord, thus to cast up before us, in His Word, the high road along which we were destined to travel, and the sights we were appointed to see. And it is happy to know, that our translation does not wait for a regained condition of dispensational order and strength; for, according to present appearances, we might have to wait long enough ere that could be. But mark further, on this same truth.
At times, when the Lord Jesus was about to deliver the poor captive of Satan, the enemy at the very moment would put forth some fresh energy of evil, and his captive apparently be in its most grievous estate.
This was another form of the same thing that we notice throughout God's Word-that the apostate thing is in peculiar strength and magnificence just at the time when its doom or judgment is at the door, and that Christ's thing is in weakness and brokenness, just as the deliverance He brings with Him is at hand.
Joseph, Moses and David, are samples of this also. One was taken from a prison, to feed and rule a nation; another was drawn forth from an unnoticed distant solitude, where he had the care of flocks and herds, to deliver a nation; another was raised up and manifested from under the neglect and contempt of his own kindred, to sustain, by his own single hand, the whole people and kingdom. And what may really amaze us in the midst of such things is this-that some of these were in the place of degradation and loss, through their own sin, and the judgment of God.
Thus it was with both Moses and David. Joseph was a martyr, I grant, and went from the sorrows of righteousness, to the greatness of the rewards of grace. So was David in the days of Saul, when David at last reached the kingdom. But David in later times was not a martyr, but a penitent. He had brought on himself all the loss and sorrow and degradation of the rebellion of Absalom-and the sin that produced it all had this heavier judgment of righteousness resting upon it. "the sword shall never depart from thine house." Nor did it. And thus he was under judgment; he was in the ruins which his own iniquity brought on him; he was the witness of God's visitation in holiness, when suddenly his house, in the person of Solomon, broke forth in full luster and strength.
Moses was a martyr, I grant, in his earlier days, in Midian, and comes forth from the place where his faith has cast him, into the honor and joy of being Israel's deliverer. But, like David, in later days, Moses was under judgment, judgment of God for his unbelief and sin. He trespassed, as we know, at the water of Meribah, and so trespassed, as at once to forfeit all title to enter the land of promise. And nothing to the end could ever change that divine purpose. In that sense, the sword never departed from Moses' house, as it did not from David's. He besought the Lord again and again, but it was in vain. He never entered the land-and thus he was judged, and still under the judgment, when grace abounds; for he is (in principle) translated, borne to the top of the hill, and not to the fields of Canaan; to the heights of Pisgah, and not to the plains of Jericho and Jordan.
These things were so. But it is better to be judged of the Lord, than to be condemned with the world; for the poor, weak and judged thing is drawn forth in the light and redemption of God, while the proud and the strong bow under Him.
(To Be Continued)