The Coming of our Lord.

Luke 12:38. "If He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch."

Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887, p. 77.

Watch after watch has passed, and our Lord has not yet come. Still, however, His word, "I come quickly," abides in all its eternal freshness and truth; and long ago the Spirit said, "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand." How soon then He may be here!

In the first watch of the night there were some saved ones on earth who waited for Him, and, as far as we can gather from the Spirit's record of their state, were so deeply attached to the Lord Jesus as the hope of their hearts that they were ready to open to Him immediately. They "went forth to meet the Bridegroom." This blessed hope, however, soon declined; it did not last long. Worldly associations and circumstances took hold of their hearts, and so far displaced Christ, that the appalling sentence could be truthfully written, "While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept;" yes, "all slumbered and slept," so that this bright and blessed hope for a long time was lost.

The time of the second watch arrived, and passed away, and the Bridegroom did not come; but "at midnight," the closing moments of the second watch, instead of our Lord coming, He sent forth an awakening cry - "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom; go ye out to meet Him." Then our Lord's prophetic words were fulfilled, for there was a general awakening, and hearts in different parts of the earth were stirred toward Him. "Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps." This was "at midnight," at the close of "the second watch," and, we judge, began about sixty years ago. We are told it was at midnight when this cry went forth, and then it was that the third watch began. Although for many centuries the blessed hope of our Lord's coming was, speaking generally, lost, yet there was occasionally an individual who had something of the Lord's mind as to this. For example, a friend of the writer's lately copied the following inscription from a monument "Here lies, expecting the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the body of Henry Clifford, first earl of Cumberland, who died in Skipton Castle, April 22nd, 1542."

The third watch, then, has not only begun but must now be far advanced. According to the Jewish mode of reckoning, it extended from midnight to three in the morning, when the fourth watch commenced. This was the "cockcrowing." We are therefore now some way on in the third watch.

The fourth watch goes on to the beginning of the day. In the fourteenth of Matthew, where we see our Lord alone in the mountain praying, and, leaving that, walking on the sea to comfort His disciples, and to bring them safely to their earthly rest and blessing (typical, as we judge, of the Jewish remnant to be brought into blessing after we are translated), it was in the fourth watch of the night. It is well also to note that, while at first they were distressed, they were soon comforted and brought safely to land, and then blessing extended to others on the earth, which we know will be the case with and through the Jewish remnant when the Deliverer comes out of Zion, and turns away ungodliness from Jacob.

The Lord's coming for us cannot be far off. Though we look not for events, but for the Lord Himself, yet many events show that "the day," which sets in after we are gone, is "approaching." Speaking according to prophetic instruction, the day of the Lord begins at sunrise, or the Lord coming with His saints in manifested glory as "the Sun of Righteousness" to bring healing to His ancient people, to shine gloriously on them that fear His name, and to tread down the wicked, and make them as ashes under the soles of their feet. (Mal. 4:2-3.) But "the Bright and Morning Star," for which we wait, must be before that. As such, He is the Hope of the Church of God. His last presentation of Himself to His Church on earth, to comfort and attract our hearts heavenward to Himself, was, "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star;" and He added, "Surely I come quickly." What should our warm and constant response to such grace be then but, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus"?

How very solemn, then, as well as cheering, are the words of our Lord: "If He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so [that is, watching], blessed are those servants." May we hear His voice to us in these encouraging words, and not only wait for Him, but watch; for, said He, "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." (Mark 13:37.)

H. H. Snell.