"Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night." We have been particularly interested in the first part of the watchman's answer; but is there not also in the second part a message for us?
The night cometh. For about ten years we have heard the cry, "The night cometh." We see the signs increasing day by day, "On the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea (restless and unrestrainable humanity) and the billows (the active and impetuous leaders); men fainting for fear (witness the crowned heads of Europe to-day), and for expectation of the things which are coming on the inhabited earth: for the powers of the heavens (governments) shall be shaken." They are shaking everywhere. Why? They have ruled by oppression. In many cases they trample on human rights. Their subjects are their slaves. If they choose to make war, these slaves must either go out and kill their brothers, or languish in prison—fortunate if they escape with their lives. In peace they must pay to keep up a vain pomp, and a small army of courtiers and useless pensioners. The many must live without life's comforts, and frequently even without its necessities, that the few may live like hogs. Surely only the blind may fail to see that this cannot last long. Already the masses are waking up to their rights; and when fully awake, they will rise like a maddened giant, and woe to the puny arm that will oppose them then!
When the conflict fairly opens, we may expect to see a repetition of the reign of terror which has characterized such outbreaks in the past. In fact, even if prophecy did not clearly portray the terrible scenes, we ought to see that outbreaks in the past would be tame compared with the grand final conflict. Not only will this one be universal, spreading itself over the civilized world, and possibly everywhere, so that there will be no place of refuge, but the destructive agents which will be used will make it seven-fold worse. Dynamite and nitroglycerine are now the favorite agents. To them conflagration, with all its horrors, is as nothing. It is like comparing the electric telegraph with the stagecoach, or the work of the thunder-bolt with the slow toil of the wood-chopper. The recent attempts in Great Britain are only samples of what we may expect, on a grand and successful scale, when the ball opens.
Pittsburghers remember the results of two days of destruction in July, 1877. Scores of locomotives and hundreds of cars were pillaged and burned; travel was suspended and business was demoralized. Imagine this condition in all the great centres—railroad, telegraph and mail communications all cut off. No letters from either friend or foe. No papers—not even ZION'S WATCH TOWER, then. No provisions, except as the Lord may provide for his own. All chaos, tumult and terror.
What opportunity will we then have either to study together or to spread the light already received? Probably nothing to compare with the present. If papers or books could be published, how could they be sent? What we do, we must do quickly. Now we have every facility. Let every one feel the responsibility of the position.
The cause needs help. There are but few who have the light. Let every one earnestly pray, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" Keep praying, and keep doing; but see that you are directed of the Lord. Let neither time, talents nor money be uselessly employed. The truth and the time demand sacrifice. The Lord requires a sacrifice. The way to the cross—the only way—means a sacrifice. Are you sacrificing? Is all on the altar? If you have laid it there, have you let go of it, and turned your back upon it? Do you count it no more yours, but the Lord's?
The time to rest is not at the beginning of the work, but at the other end. If these bodies get used up, we have better ones waiting. The present life has duties that cannot and should not be avoided; but let the earthly be subordinate to the spiritual.
Remember, we are now living in the day of the Lord. It has come as a thief in the night. Soon, as Peter describes, "The heavens (governments) will pass away with a great noise (moral as well as physical dynamite), and the elements (component parts and principles of the governments) shall be dissolved with fervent heat (Jer. 23:29; Mal. 3:2; 1 Cor. 3:13-15), and the earth (organized society) and the works that are therein (oppression, fraud, deceit, pride, etc., and probably includes also social institutions and business,) shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in holy living and godliness?"