Not long since, many who are now rejoicing in the light of present truth were under the cover of darkness, uneasily seeking rest in the short bed and narrow covering of Babylon's creeds. Some loved the darkness, but a few anxiously longed for the dawn of day.
To such a voice has come, saying: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." This light that has come is none other than the glorious light of our Lord's presence, for the long-promised second advent is due. At his first advent Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," and the early disciples were bidden to arise and shine, their light having come. But since he has come in the glory of power the Church is now bidden to arise and shine with increasing glory, her glorious light having come.
Few at our Lord's first advent discerned his light because the majority preferred darkness; the few gladly received the light, and through them it has been reflected all through the gospel age. Thus they in turn became light-bearers as Jesus said—"Ye are the light of the world....Let your light shine." (Matt. 5:14-16.) Had not the mystery of iniquity begun to work that light would long since have flooded the world with its glory. But it was a part of the plan of God to let the mystery of iniquity work, interposing its clouds of error and superstition, thus obscuring the light, that the world might not see until the "due time" had come for binding Satan and ushering in the reign of righteousness. (Rev. 20:2.)
So great has been the deception and darkness brought about through this agency of Satan, that but feebly have even the children of light been able to discern and follow it. In fact, as the mystery of iniquity increased in power, the whole heavens have been overspread with clouds and thick darkness, and nearly all of God's children have submitted more or less to the drowsy influence. But to the few who, feeling the discomfort and longing for the day have escaped from the short beds, the message, Let your light shine has increasing significance now that the great light, the glorious head of the Church, has come.
Yes, we have seen the light; we have felt its blessed influence; our drowsy sensibilities have been quickened into new life, and our hearts leap for joy as we recognize present truth and by faith discern the glory of the coming day.
Well, say some, If the Lord were indeed present would not the whole earth be filled with his glory? Yes, in due time it will be, but we remember that he comes as a thief, and for a time is unobserved by the world. The world will not see his light, neither will unfaithful, sleeping children of God discern it. The gross darkness of ignorance and unbelief will everywhere prevail and only the faithful few will discern Christ's second advent, until the day of the Lord is well advanced and the Sun of righteousness and truth shall have scattered the vail of gross darkness which now covers the earth. And to this the prophet's words agree—"Behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." Seeing, then, that these things are so, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?
Paul exhorted those who enjoyed the light of our Lord's first advent to be followers of God as dear children..."to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time [securing the opportunity] because the days are evil." With still greater emphasis would the Apostle's words apply to those now enjoying the light of his second presence.
To walk circumspectly is to walk cautiously, with watchfulness every way, with attention to guard against surprise or danger, and not as fools or those destitute of understanding. In this evil day it is important that, having escaped from the former darkness, we be not again deceived and led back. Once started on the backward track, it is only a question of time how soon we reach the former, or a worse darkness.
We have for some time noticed, and called attention to the destructive tendency of the errors advanced in this day of the Church's final trial, as well as to the superior light which should enable her to contend against it. Every departure from the straight course of truth seems now to lead with unerring certainty and haste to a denial of the whole system of truth, even to its very centre.
There is special need now to heed Paul's warning to walk cautiously, with a constant guard against surprise or danger, and not as those destitute of understanding, or as those who have never been enlightened. To some, under the delusive snares of the adversary, we have noticed that the most unreasonable and most unscriptural assertions were received and held to with a tenacity which baffled all efforts for their rescue, while that which they once hailed with delight as the truth of God, seemed but an idle tale. To such we would again repeat Paul's exhortation, "Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." The glory of the Lord has risen upon thee; arise, and let it shine through thee! That is not truth, by whatsoever route it may lead, if its course leads away from the very center of our hope—redemption through the precious blood of Christ.
This blessed truth, on which hangs all our hope, has, like a well-grounded anchor, held God's children all through the gospel age. Other truths have been either mutilated or destroyed, but God has not permitted the devil in his wrath to throw away the Christian's anchor. Once let go your anchor and you find yourself drifting on an unknown sea. Thank God the anchor will never be destroyed, but you may lose your hold on it. Above the stormy billows of a tempestuous sea let our brother's words be heard—"Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward." Hold fast to the anchor.