"Watchman, what of the Night?"

THE MORNING COMETH! Yes, those whose trust is in God and whose hope is Christ may lift up their heads and rejoice, for as surely as the Word has spoken of the morning, so surely shall it come, IT COMETH. The music of its advancing feet already vibrates in the hearts of the watchers, and the furious clamour of the darkness, preparing for one desperate, one last, supreme resistance, is only added evidence to those who believe that it must yield up its almost impregnable fortress in this earth, and fly before the victorious march of the coming day.

This is a hope that maketh not ashamed, though those who live in the power of it do not walk by sight but by faith. And it is this hope, made true to the heart by faith, that will alone keep the Christian from despondency; it will be his sure and steadfast anchor in the storm, and make him sing in the present gloom.

But this hope does not rest in anything that men can achieve. The Spirit-taught Christian knows that nothing but evil, and that continually, can come forth from men; he also knows that behind poor blinded man the powers of darkness are at work in the endeavour to accomplish their foul schemes. It is not to the success of the Allies that he looks for the dawning of the day and perpetual peace; even though an Archbishop declares that, by the triumph of their arms, the forces of righteousness will be advanced in the earth and the Lord's kingdom come. Whether they are triumphant or beaten, whether the conflict comes to a speedy end or is indefinitely prolonged, will make no difference to this one great declaration of God: the Morning cometh. It is not by the military prowess of one nation, or the peace proposals of another, nor by the triumph of this philosophy or that philanthropy, that the morning shall be ushered in, but BY THE UPRISING OF THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS — THE PERSONAL RETURN TO EARTH OF THE ONCE-REJECTED AND CRUCIFIED LORD JESUS CHRIST. "He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even as a morning without clouds; as tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain" "The Lord will make bare His arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."

Before this can come to pass the Lord must first come into the air to catch away to Himself His church, His heavenly bride, and all those who have died in faith since the fall in Eden as is plainly told in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. But this glorious event may take place at any moment, it is the immediate hope of the church — the dawning of the morning for them which shall open out into the reign of righteousness on earth, and finally into the day of God's rest in a new heaven and earth.

"Our hearts beat high,
The dawn is nigh,
That ends our pilgrim story,
In His appointed glory."

THE DARKNESS DEEPENS. It must do so, for the darkest hour is always that which precedes the dawn. One of the greatest living statesmen has said, "We live in times when the whole world is either standing in arms, or is standing in expectation of what next is to come to the human race in the way of some great calamity." That expectation of which he spoke might well deepen into the gravest apprehension, for the signs are many that those hitherto unknown calamities that the Exile in Patmos saw in Apocalyptic Vision are hastening to overwhelm this rebel world.

GREAT CHANGES MUST COME. The entrance of the Turk into the conflict is portentous, for if we rightly read the Prophetic Word, that once proud and vicious empire must fail, and the northern portion at least of its dominion must come under the rule of the King of the North (Russia), and this would seem to be the probable result of its present folly. It must cease to hold the Holy Land also, for this must come into the hands of the Jews. They will take possession of it in unbelief, and there pass through such a furnace of persecution as has not been witnessed since the world began.

The armies of the kings of the whole habitable world will be attracted to that land as by a mighty magnet, driven there also, by the spirits of demons (Rev. 16), in high rebellion against God, and there shall they perish in the great ARMAGEDDON; for there shall the King of kings tread "the wine press of the fierceness of Almighty God," until the blood flows even to the horses' bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs, or two hundred miles, the entire length of the land (Rev. 14:20).

The absence of a great military genius in the present war will tend to its prolongation, which will weaken all the nations engaged in it, and especially the Governments of them, and so make the way easy for that terrible anarchy that shall prevail over Europe and beyond its bounds, in comparison with which the French Revolution will appear like a nursery game. It will be through a terrible travail of that kind, that highly favoured, but then apostate, Christendom will bring to birth the Beast, to whom Satan will delegate his power (Rev. 13).

But those birth throes will be but the beginning of sorrows, overwhelming woes shall follow them: the death pangs of all the hopes that man will place in the Beast and his false prophet — those two devil-inspired monsters of iniquity — the perfect supermen, who will attempt to blot the name of God from the earth and exalt themselves to His throne, and marshal their hosts of fighting men to keep the Lamb out of His inheritance. Unspeakably solemn for the men of Christendom are the words of 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 in this connection.

"And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

Truly the night cometh, the devastating blackness of which shall be unrelieved by a single star for those who "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." We do not assert that these terrible happenings will immediately follow upon this war, but that the way for them is being prepared by it, and if a breathing space is given, it will only be a time of preparation for the final cataclysm.

But before that night of unparalleled wrath sweeps over a grace-rejecting world, the believer will be in the glory of his Lord, for he has "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, even Jesus, whom He raised from the dead, our Deliverer from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). To Him the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and in answer to their cry He will come; and He may come at any moment, first to claim His own, and then to establish righteousness in the earth, and

"Bid the whole creation smile
  And hush its groan."

Thank God, the morning cometh!

In considering the present condition of things in the world and their outcome, men and their achievements are apt to loom too large in our eyes, for we are men, and far too little place be given to the spirit forces that work behind the scenes.

The fact is that everything that men do that is eternally good and enduring is done under the constraint and the power of God the Holy Ghost, and everything that is done in disobedience to God is provoked and energized by the powers of evil. Nothing can be clearer than this in Scripture. Take such a passage as Ephesians 2:1-2, "You were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Satan is the prince of the power of the air, and he is behind man's disobedience to God; he is the subtle schemer and they are but his puppets; and men are willing to carry out his schemes, for their hearts are at enmity against God.

Now Satan has legions of spirit beings at his command: Ephesians 6:12 speaks of them: "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, wicked spirits in the heavenly places" (margin). These find an outlet for their diabolical energies, and express their evil character in the great movements of the world — political, social, economical, military, and religious; they are very plausible but most deceptive, and their real object is the forcing of God out of the world and the final destruction of men. And men are carried on the tide of these movements, believing, the while, that they have originated them, and that the outcome of them will be the final glory of man.

When we come to the Revelation these spirit forces come into clearer manifestation, for there is unfolded for us the great final struggle between good and evil, God and the devil; this earth and mankind being the battlefield. In the chapters that refer to this present time we find "Satan's seat," "Satan's dwelling" (2:13), "Satan's depths" (2:24), "Satan's synagogue" (3:9). He has a form of government by which he controls men, "the power of darkness" (Col. 1), designed in imitation of God's, and as perfect and strong as his wisdom and power can make it.

As the book unfolds, his activities come more into evidence, but there is not a work of mercy among them, all are utterly evil; he is a deceiver and a murderer from the beginning — "the dragon, that old serpent, the devil, and Satan" (Rev. 20:2) — and his angels, from the most exalted prince to the meanest demon, are all like him. The awful world-wide misery and devastation, and the terrible torments inflicted upon men, that the Revelation predicts, prior to the revelation of the wrath of God against them, is the devil's work and not God's; much of it may be perpetrated by men upon each other, but his is the plan and the energy behind it all. He is the great destroyer, and but for the restraining power of Almighty God in His long-suffering with men, he would long ago have brought about universal physical, as well as moral, chaos. When the day of grace is over and the church has gone from earth, God will remove the restraint, and the devil will be permitted to do his will, that it may be demonstrated to the universe how terrible a choice man made when he turned from God and His goodness; in which choice, alas, he has persisted, refusing to be reconciled to Him.

These powers of darkness under the devil's control are not idle now; they are growing bolder as the churches' pilgrimage on earth is drawing to its close. In every direction their work is evident; it is seen in the growing apostasy, the boldness with which men are denying the truth of God and casting aside the Bible, for they hate God and would rob men of His truth; it is seen in the awful carnage on the battlefield, for they do not love men and would destroy them utterly.

How the devil must have laughed of late, as many who stood in the place of ministers of God, and ought to have known better, exulted in the progress of civilization, and the spread of culture, and the march of science and of universal brotherhood, and the solidarity of the race; and who saw visions, and prophesied of the kingdom of the Lord along that attractive road! What now? Their visions were a baseless fabric; and their gorgeous hopes are blasted, and as completely destroyed as any Belgian fort battered and broken by German shells. The whole resources of the civilization in which they hoped, and the latest devices of science in which they boasted, are being eagerly used for the destruction of men by each other; and the most progressive nations on earth, who, according to them, were to carry the kingdom of God, mainly through Higher Criticism, to races less favoured, are pouring forth their hatred of each other from the cannon's mouth. And if the bewildering wickedness of it all is relieved by any kindness, manifested in the way of care for the souls and the bodies of men, it is because true Christianity is still in the world. How awful will things be when this is gone!

Different degrees of guilt in this matter there undoubtedly are, and we are sure that some, at least, of the belligerents had no desire for the fight, and bear no great enmity against those they are fighting. Nevertheless, proof enough is given in earth, and air, and sea, that the kingdoms of this world are not yet His who came to save men's lives, but that the Word is true which says, "the whole world lieth in wickedness (or, the wicked one)" (1 John 5:19). The devil is its "prince" (John 12:31), and its "god" (2 Cor. 4:4).

OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN (Phil. 3:20). And we are not of this world (John 17:16). These are truths which are often stated, but how little understood by those of whom they are stated; and how few there are who take them up wholly in the simplicity of faith and live according to them. Yet they lie at the very basis of all Christian testimony in the world, and no Christian is an intelligent and true witness for Christ who is not, in some measure at least, acting upon them. The instincts that belong to the new life within the child of God answers to these great truths, and he shrinks from the world and its evil, and longs to breathe more fully the air of his home-land — unless beguiled by that cunning craftiness of the devil's teaching, so largely adopted by Christendom, that Christianity is only one of the world-forces set in motion for the progress of humanity. The fact is that identification with the world's ambitious schemes, as well as complicity, in its evil, is a practical denial of the Christian position. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." How a thousand difficulties disappear in the presence of such words, spoken by the One who has set Himself apart in heaven for our sakes! And how clear and straight a path through this world shines before us in them!

"We are but strangers here,
Within a foreign land,
Our home is far away
Upon a golden strand.
Ambassadors are we
For Christ beyond the sea.
We're here on business for THE KING."

"Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21).

The Christian's place is that of an intercessor before God for those in sorrow and for all men, and the more truly his "not of the world" character and heavenly calling is understood by him, the better he will be able to intercede. We must not be disinterested, much less indifferent spectators of what is going on in the world; its woes and wickedness should cause us grief of heart, and deeply exercise us before God and drive us to Him in prayer that strife may cease and the gospel of peace prosper. But if we become absorbed with our surroundings, or carried away by national feeling, or by human passions, we are so far unfitted to fill our high and holy place before God on behalf of men.