Be Ready




     Jesus has left us word, "Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you. I say unto all, Watch." We are waiting and watching for the Master's return, who is to bring the morning, lest coming suddenly he find us sleeping. What time is here referred to? Not the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven to find a people asleep. No; but his return from his ministration in the most holy, laying off his priestly attire, and clothing himself with garments of vengeance, when the mandate goes forth, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." 

     When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are decided forever. This is the time of reckoning with his servants. Those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, fitting them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, their sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes. Christ's intercessions cease in Heaven, and it is finally sudden upon all, and those who have neglected the purifying of their souls by obeying the truth, are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching. They became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for his appearing and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations, and might be again. They concluded there was time enough yet to arouse. They would be sure and not lose the opportunity of securing an earthly treasure. It would be safe to get all of this world they could. And in securing this object, they lost all anxiety and interest in the appearing of the Master. They became indifferent and careless, as though his coming was yet in the distance. While their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared. If they had only known that the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary would close so soon, how differently would they have conducted! How earnestly would they have watched! The Master anticipated all this, and gave them timely warning in the command to watch. He distinctly states the suddenness of his coming. He does not measure the time, lest we shall neglect a momentary preparation, and in our indolence look ahead to the time when we think he will come, and defer the preparation. "Watch ye therefore; for ye know not." Yet this uncertainty, and the suddenness at last, foretold, fails to quicken our watchfulness, and arouse us from stupidity to earnest wakefulness, for our expected Master. Those not found waiting and watching, are finally surprised in their unfaithfulness. The Master has come, and instead of their being ready to open unto him immediately, they are locked in a worldly slumber, and are lost at last. 

     A company was presented before me in contrast to the one described. They were waiting and watching. Their eyes were directed heavenward, and the words of their Master were upon their lips. "What I say unto you. I say unto all, Watch." "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping." The Lord intimates a delay before the morning finally dawns. He would not have them give way to weariness, nor relax their earnest watchfulness, because the morning does not open upon them as soon as they expected. The waiting ones were represented to me as looking upward. They were encouraging one another repeating these words. 

     The first and second watches are past. We are in the third watch, waiting and watching for the Master's return. These remains but a little period of watching now. I saw some becoming weary; their eyes were directed downward, and they were engrossed with earthly things, and were unfaithful in watching. They were saying, In the first watch we expected our Master, but were disappointed. We thought surely he would come in the second watch, but that passed, and he came not. We may be again disappointed. We need not be so particular. He may not come in the following watch. We are in the third watch, and now we think it best to lay up our treasure on the earth. that we may be secure against want. Many were sleeping, stupefied with the cares of this life, allured, by the deceitfulness of riches, from their waiting, watching position. 

     Angels were represented to me as looking on with intense interest to mark the appearance of the yet faithful, wearied watchers, lest they be tried too surely, and sink under the toil and hardships, made doubly severe by their brethren being diverted from their watch, and drunken with worldly cares, and beguiled by worldly prosperity. The heavenly angels grieve that those who were once watching should, by their indolence and unfaithfulness, increase the trial and burdens of those who were trying, with earnestness and perseverance, to maintain their waiting, watching positions. 

     I saw that it was impossible to have the affections and interests engrossed in worldly cares, increasing their possessions, laying up treasures upon the earth, and yet be in a waiting, watching position, as our Saviour has commanded. Said the angel, "They can secure but one world. In order to acquire the heavenly treasure, they must sacrifice the earthly. They cannot have both worlds." I saw how necessary was a continuance of faithfulness in watching to escape the delusive snares of Satan. He leads those who should be waiting and watching, to take one step of advance toward the world, and they have no intention of going further, but that one step has removed them that much further from Jesus, which makes it easier to take the next, and thus step after step of advance has been made toward the world, until a profession, a name only, makes the difference between them and the world. They have lost their peculiar, holy character, and there is nothing to distinguish them from the lovers of the world around them except their profession. Watch after watch, I saw, was in the past. Because of this should there be a lack of vigilance? Oh! no. There is the greater necessity of unceasing watchfulness for now the moments are fewer than before the passing of the first watch. Now the period of time for the waiting is necessarily shorter than at first. If we watched with unabated vigilance then, how much more need of double watchfulness in the second watch. The passing of the second watch has brought us to the third, and now it is inexcusable to relax our watching. The third watch calls for threefold earnestness. To become impatient now, would be a loss of all our earnest, persevering watching heretofore. The long night of gloom is trying, but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come, so many would be found unready. God's unwillingness to have his people perish, has been the reason of so long delay. But the time of the coming of the morning to the faithful, and the night to the unfaithful, is right upon us. By thus waiting  and watching, God's people are to manifest their peculiar, separate character from worldlings. By our watching positions, we are to show how truly we are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. The difference between the lovers of the world and those who love Christ, is so plain as to be unmistakable. The world, all earnestness, interest, and ambition, to secure earthly treasure, while God's people are not conformed to the world, but transformed, showing by their earnest watching, waiting position, that their home is not in this world. They are seeking a better country, even an heavenly. 

     I hope, my dear brethren and sisters, you will not pass your eye over these words without thoroughly considering their import. The men of Galilee stood looking steadfastly toward heaven, to catch, if possible a glimpse of their Saviour as he ascended. Two men in white apparel stood by them, who were heavenly angels, commissioned to comfort them for the loss of the presence of their Saviour. They inquired, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 

     God designs his people shall fix their eyes heavenward looking for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. While the attention of worldlings is turned to the various enterprises, ours should be to the Heavens, our faith reaching farther and farther into the glorious mysteries of heavenly treasures, drawing the precious, divine rays of light from the heavenly sanctuary, to shine in our hearts, as it shineth in the face of Jesus Christ. The scoffers mock the waiting, watching ones, and inquire, "Where is the promise of his coming? You have been disappointed. Engage now with us, and you will prosper in worldly things. Get gain, get money, and be honored of the world." The waiting ones are looking upward and answer, "We are watching." They turn from earthly pleasure, and from worldly fame, and from the deceitfulness of riches, and show themselves to be watching. In watching they become strong. They overcome sloth and selfishness, and love of ease. Affliction's fire kindles upon them, and the waiting time seems long. They grieve sometimes, and faith falters; but they rally again, overcome their fears and doubts, and while their eyes are directed heavenward, say to their adversaries, "I am watching, I am waiting the return of my Lord." I will glory in tribulation, in affliction, in necessities.    

     The desire of our lord is that we should be so watching that when he cometh and knocketh, we may open to him immediately. A blessing is pronounced upon those servants that he finds watching. "He will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." Who among us in these last days will be thus especially honored by the Master of assemblies? Are we prepared without delay to open to him immediately and welcome the Master? Watch, watch, watch. This watching and waiting, ready, all ready to welcome our Lord, has ceased with nearly all. We are not ready to open to him immediately. The love of the world has occupied our thoughts, and so filled our minds that our eyes are turned downward to the earth, but not upward. We are hurrying about, engaged in different enterprises, with zeal and earnestness, and God is forgotten, and the heavenly treasure is now valued. We are not in a waiting, watching position. The love of the world and the deceitfulness of riches eclipses our faith, and we do not long for, and love, the appearing of our Saviour. We do too much ourselves, to take care of self.

     We are uneasy, distrustful, and greatly lack a firm trust in God. Many worry and work, and contrive and plan, fearing they suffer need. They cannot afford time to pray, or to attend religious meetings, and in their care for themselves, leave no chance for God to care for them. The Lord does not to do much for them, for they give him no opportunity. The do too much for themselves, and believe and trust too little in God.    

     The love of the world is terrible upon the Lord's people, whom he has commanded to watch and pray always, lest coming suddenly he find them sleeping. 'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."    

     I have been shown that God's people who profess to believe present truth, are not in a waiting, watching position. They are increasing in riches, and laying up their treasures upon the earth. They are becoming rich in worldly things, but not rich toward God. They do not believe in the shortness of time. They do not believe that the end of all things is at hand. They do not believe that Christ is at the door. They will act out all the faith that they really possess. They may profess much faith but deceive their own souls. Their works show the character of their faith. Many testify to those around them, by their works that the coming of Christ is not to be in this generation. According to their faith will be their works. Their preparations are being made to remain in this world. They are adding house to house, and land to land, and are citizens of this world. The condition of poor Lazarus feeding upon the crumbs from the rich man's table is preferable to these. If they possessed genuine faith, instead of increasing their treasures upon the earth they would be selling off, freeing themselves from the cumbersome things of earth, and transferring their treasure before them to Heaven. Then their interest and hearts will be where their treasure is. The heart of man is where is his greatest treasure. The most of those who profess to believe the truth testify that that which they value the most is in this world. For this they have care, wearing anxiety and labor. To preserve and add to their treasure is the study of their lives. They have transferred so little to Heaven that their interest is not especially exercised in that better country. They have taken so little stock in the heavenly treasure that their minds are not attracted in that direction. Their investments have been made in the things of this world. They have taken large stock in the enterprises of this earth, and these matters involve the interest, and like the magnet draw down their souls from the heavenly and imperishable to the earthly and corruptible. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Selfishness girds them about as with iron bands. It is my farm, my goods, my trade, my merchandise. Even the claims of common humanity by many are disregarded. Men and women professing to be waiting and loving the appearing of their Lord, are shut up to self. The noble, the godlike, they have parted with. The love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, have so fastened upon men and women that they are blinded. They are corrupted by the world, and discern it not. They talk of love to God, but their fruits show not the love they express. They rob him in tithes and offerings, and the withering curse of God is upon them. The truth has been illuminating their pathway on every side. God has wrought wonderfully in the salvation of souls in their own households, but where are their offerings, presented to God in grateful thanks for all his tokens of mercy to them? Many of them are as unthankful as the brute creation. The sacrifice for man was infinite, beyond the comprehension of the strongest intellect. Yet, men who claim to be partakers of these heavenly benefits, which were brought to them with so much cost, are too thoroughly selfish to make any real sacrifice for God. The world, the world, the world, their minds are upon. In the forty-ninth psalm, we read, "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever.)" If all would bear in mind, and in a small degree appreciate, the immense sacrifice made by Christ, they would feel rebuked for their fearfulness and their supreme selfishness. "Our God shall come and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." Because of selfishness, and love of the world, God is forgotten, and many have barrenness of soul, and cry, My leanness, my leanness. God has lent means to his people to prove them, to test the depth of their professed love for him. Some would let go of God, and give up their heavenly treasure, rather than to decrease their earthly possessions and make a covenant with God by sacrifice. God calls for them to sacrifice; but the love of the world closes their ears, and they will not hear.    

     I looked to see who of those who professed to be looking for Christ's coming, possessed the spirit of sacrificing offerings to God of their abundance. I could see a few humble, poor ones, who were stinting themselves, and casting in their mite, like the poor widow. Every such offering is accounted of God as precious treasure. But those who are acquiring means, and adding to their possessions, are far behind. They do comparatively nothing to what they might. They are withholding, and robbing God. They are fearful they shall come to want. They dare not trust God. This is one of the reasons, that as a people, we are so sickly, and so many are falling into their graves. The covetous are among us. The lovers of the world, also those who have stinted the laborer in his hire, are among us. Men who had none of this world, who were poor and dependent on their labor, have been dealt with closely and unjustly. The lover of the world has, with a hard face, and harder heart, paid over the small sum earned by hard toil, grudgingly. Just so they are dealing with their Master, whose servants they profess to be. Just in this grudging manner do they put into the treasury of God. Like the man in the parable, who had not where to bestow his goods, and the Lord cut short his unprofitable life, so will he deal with many. How difficult, in this corrupt age, to keep from growing worldly and selfish. How easy to become ungrateful to the Giver of all our mercies. Great watchfulness is needed, with much prayer, to keep the soul with all diligence. "Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is." 

PH098 13-23