Home > Interpretation, The Gospel > A sermon on prophecy by S. F. Jarvis

A sermon on prophecy by S. F. Jarvis

August 9, 2012

In the following sermon, Samuel Farmar Jarvis (1786-1851) discusses the certainty, use, intent, and importance of prophecy. [Samuel Farmar Jarvis. Two Discourses on Prophecy. James A. Sparks, N.Y., 1843]

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

Samuel Farmar Jarvis

Samuel Farmar Jarvis

The second Epistle of St. Peter was probably written at Rome after the death of St. Paul, and certainly a very short time before his own. This he expressly declares in the 14th verse of this chapter, in assigning the motives for his writing. It was written therefore in the latter part of the reign of Nero, and not more than four years before the destruction of Jerusalem. It was addressed to the same Christian communities to whom he had sent his first Epistle; namely, to the Jewish Christians scattered in the Provinces of Asia Minor, lying along the Euxine or Black Sea. The object of it was, to give them, and through them, all the members of God’s Church till the end of time, his dying charge to make their calling and election sure, and to prepare, by the practice of all the Christian gifts and graces, for the second coming of their Lord.

Some have supposed, from the time in which the Apostle wrote, that when he spake of “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he meant to indicate merely the approaching termination of the Jewish Commonwealth. But though he may have had that event in view as the beginning of those judgments which are to overtake all the enemies of Christ, yet it is much more consonant with the purposes for which revelation was given, and more consistent with the whole tenor of Scripture, to believe that his ultimate scope was the visible and personal appearing of our Lord in glory. I cannot conceive that anything short of this was consistent with the long duration, the gradual progress, and the wide extent of the Mediatorial kingdom. As a dying man, therefore, writing not for the men of that age alone, but for the whole Church, even to the time of the Second Advent, the Apostle solemnly declares the truth of his own testimony. He could not be deceived himself, and he could not and would not deceive the Church of God. “We have not followed cunningly-devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty,” [2 Peter i. 16]– namely, the majesty, as the two following verses show, which the Apostle himself saw on the holy mount of the transfiguration.

If it be asked what connection that glorious vision had with the second coming of the Lord Jesus, we answer that it took place exactly one year before the kindred glories of the Ascension; that it was designed to prepare the minds of his disciples, not only for his death, but for his resurrection and return to his antemundane glory; and that to Peter, in common with all who witnessed the ascension, the angelic testimony was given, that the “same Jesus” would “so come in like manner as” they had ”seen him go into heaven.” [Acts i. 11]

His personal testimony as to the manner and majesty of our Lord’s second coming being thus given, the Apostle proceeds, in the language of the text, to present another argument on the same subject of a most exalted and convincing nature. It is no less than this, that the Spirit of God hath spoken of that glorious event “by the mouth of his holy prophets.” [Luke i. 70] “We have also,” he says, “a most sure prophetic word to which ye do well to give earnest attention.” He compares it to a lamp which burneth in the squalid darkness (for that is the meaning of the term) of the present life; and he assigns two reasons why all Christians should give such earnest heed to it. The first is, because, in the language of our translation, we know “that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” The second is, that prophecy did not proceed from human will, but from the motions of the Holy Ghost.

The words “private interpretation” in the English Bible, are in some measure of doubtful meaning, and have therefore been the occasion of controversy. The word rendered ”private” literally signifies “that which belongs to one’s self–one’s own;” and the word rendered “interpretation” is a figure derived from the loosing or untying of a knot. Literally translated therefore, the expression means that Prophecy is not of its own untying. Some commentators have given to the whole of the verse, the construction, that the prophets themselves were ignorant of the true sense of the prophecies which they uttered. This they think is required by the following verse: “For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” There can be no question that the Prophets understood what they uttered only so far as the Holy Ghost vouchsafed to interpret his own meaning. But I apprehend that the text means much more than this; and that in fact the paraphrase contained in one of the ancient versions [Arabic] gives the true sense. “Knowing this first, that all prophecy of the Scripture does not solve its own sense.” Now this is a very important assertion; for it dearly distinguishes the difference between prophecy and all other inspired compositions. In those parts of Holy Scripture, for example, which are argumentative, as the Epistle to the Hebrews, or that of St. Paul to the Romans, not only did the inspired writer himself understand what he uttered, but the words uttered are also to be explained by the ordinary rules of criticism, and therefore contain their interpretation within themselves. Not so with prophecy. “You are especially to understand,” says St. Peter, “that all prophecy of the Scripture is not made of its own untying.” It is not so framed as to afford the solution of its own sense. To obtain a clear, literal, exact knowledge of the words of a prophecy is indeed very important. But when we have done this, we may have advanced but a very small step towards the understanding of the prophecy. It can be solved only by the coming of those events which it was intended to foreshadow. The very connection between its meaning and the occurrence of the events by which it is solved, shows, not only that the prophet himself did not fully understand what he was saying, but also that his thoughts must of necessity have been dictated by the Holy Ghost; because no man would write what he did not and could not understand, unless he were moved to do so by a power superior to his own will.

Such is the true, because it is the literal meaning of this important text. It is not a new meaning adopted to serve a purpose, or confirm a theory. If it were, I should have been one of the last to propose it to you. It is nearly as old as the Epistle itself; for it occurs in the most ancient versions.

The words of the text being thus examined so far as it was necessary to elucidate their meaning, we will proceed to their subject, which is

PROPHECY CONCERNING THE POWER AND COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

And in considering this subject, the text confines our attention,

I. TO ITS CERTAINTY.
II. TO ITS USE.
III. TO ITS INTENT; AND
IV. TO ITS IMPORTANCE.

May that same Blessed Spirit who dictated these prophecies, and who now presides over the Church, in the absence of her Lord, as her present though invisible Comforter and Advocate-may that same Blessed Spirit be our guardian against the errors of rash, and ignorant, and presumptuous expounders of his word! May he keep us “steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity!” [2 Cor. iv. 6] May he shine in our hearts, to give us the light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ! [Num. xxiii. 19]

I–THE CERTAINTY OF PROPHECY

On this point I shall say but little, because I am not arguing with Infidels, but addressing myself to a Christian congregation, who, I am willing to believe, search the Scriptures themselves, and are anxious to understand them rightly.

The text assures us that the prophets “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” But “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” [Num. xxiii. 19] Therefore the prophetic word is most sure, and will as certainly come to pass as it is certain that God is true. When St Peter wrote his epistle, the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John was not written. There was an interval between them of about thirty years. But as the Revelation claims to be a divinely-inspired prophecy; as that claim has been admitted by the Church from the beginning; as it has the same internal marks of truth as the other Scriptures; and its analogies are all in perfect harmony with the other prophetical writings; it comes within the scope of St. Peter’s declaration, and is therefore to be received as the sure and certain language of the Holy Ghost.

All arguments against the certainty of prophecy proceed from an evil heart of unbelief; and as extremes meet, these arguments are sometimes heard from the disappointed enthusiast, as well as from the impure scoffer. The enthusiast who has persuaded himself that his computations are infallible, doubts the truth of the revelation, because it does not accord with his fancies. The scoffer derides God’s solemn promises because they came not within the compass of his own personal experience. The conduct of both proceeds from the corrupt pride and licentious exercise of human reason; and St. Peter, as if he foresaw both these classes of men, warns us in the sequel of this Epistle, against both. He tells us in the second chapter, that as there were false prophets among the Jews, so also shall there be false teachers among Christians, (including, of course, false interpreters of prophecy), on whose account the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” He warns us also, in the third chapter, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” [2 Pet. iii, 3, 4] To such he answers, in allusion, it may well be supposed, to the language of our Lord’s own admonition, [Matt. xxiv. 37-44; Luke xvii. 26, 26; 2 Pet. iii. 5-7] by analogies from the fancied security of the wicked before the Deluge; and, like the prophet Malachi to the scoffers of his time, he assures them that the Eternal changes not, and that his very delay is an act of long-suffering and mercy. [Mal. iii. 6] Distance of time makes no difference in the truth of God’s declarations–with him one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [2 Pet. iii. 9, 9] The Apostle ends his Epistle, therefore, with an exhortation that they will not suffer the taunts of scoffers or the ignorance of those who wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, to make them fall from their steadfastness. [2 Pet. iii. 10-18]

With these few observations on the certainty of prophecy, I proceed to consider, in the second place,

II.–THE USE OF PROPHECY.

God’s word in general is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. [Ps. cxix. 105] During the darkness of this mortal life it is necessary that we may guide our feet and employ our hands aright; but in the Heavenly Jerusalem there shall be no night, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light. The glory of God will lighten that city, and the Lamb will be the light thereof. [Rev. xxii. 5, and xxi. 23] The use, then, of all Holy Scripture is confined to the present life. The same figure is in the text applied to prophecy. It is “a lamp burning in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the morning-star shall arise in our hearts.” The figure itself denotes all that need be said concerning the use of prophecy. It is a lamp shining, not merely in a dark place, as we from the poverty of our language are obliged to translate it. For the word employed by St. Peter is one of much greater force. It denotes a place of filth in which the working of the mass of corruption beneath, sends up continually foul and noxious exhalations which render the atmosphere gross and heavy. In such an atmosphere a lamp burns dimly and with difficulty; the more dimly where there is the most corruption; the more brightly where the noxious exhalation are fewest. Whether St. Peter had or had not in his thoughts our Lord’s parable of the ten virgins, that parable will aptly illustrate his meaning. The two classes of persons there described as having lamps are the religious and the irreligious; for wisdom, in the language of the Scriptures, denotes religion, and folly irreligion. The wise are righteous; the foolish are wicked. And now let us see how these two classes of persons use their lamps.

You will observe that the lamp of the prophetic word is given equally to both. The Holy Scriptures are not locked up, or confined to a few; and although the prophecies are not by any read and studied as much as they ought to be, because they do not contain their own solution, yet any man, however unlearned, if he is constant in attending the ministrations of the Church, cannot fail, with a proper degree of attention, to become familiar with the language and the general sense of the most important predictions concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is this difference between the situation of these two classes. The wise are aware of the noxious influence of sin. They know that by nature we are in a state of moral pollution which causes the word of God to burn dimly. They strive, therefore, by avoiding the society of wicked persons, by prayer, by meditation, by watchfulness, and especially by the use of all those means of grace which God hath appointed in his Church, to overcome the corrupting influences of sin. From these causes alone the light of prophecy is to them clearer than it can be to the foolish. “The light of the righteous,” saith Solomon, ”rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.” [Prov. xiii. 9]

The righteous, however, as well as the wicked, dwell in the world, and must suffer, in a greater or less degree, from the grossness of its atmosphere. From its influences, and the frailties of our mortal nature, they, as well as the foolish, slumber and sleep. None are so wide awake, and so watchful, as they ought to be. Nevertheless, they do not always slumber; but arise from time to time and trim their lamps, heedful of the danger of letting them burn dimly, and knowing that if not constantly trimmed, the corrupt influences of the world may put them out. The foolish, on the other hand, slumber on, utterly regardless of their lamps, and utterly unconcerned at the danger of being left in total darkness.

There is another distinguishing characteristic in the conduct of the wise and the foolish. The oil with which the lamp of prophecy is fed is knowledge. The text assures us that prophecy does not solve its own sense. The knowledge of God’s moral government of the universe can alone untie its meaning. That knowledge can be obtained only from the patient study of history as to what is past, and a devout, and serious, and heedful attention to the occurrences of the portentous present. But in the study of history, or in the contemplation of that mighty diorama which is now passing by us on the world’s theatre, men look with very different eyes according as they are religious or irreligious. In the contemplation of events whether past or present, the wise see constantly the hand of God, directing all things according to the counsel of his will, and making the passions, and the interests, and even the crimes and the follies of men subservient to the great purpose of establishing his own eternal kingdom. The foolish, on the contrary, confine their view only to second causes. The judgments of God are far above out of their sight. [Ps. x. 5] They see not, that the whole history of mankind, in the ages antecedent to the first coming of Christ, was intended to for that event; and that since his first coming the whole series of history has, in like manner, been directed preparatory to his second coming. They see not, that the raising up or casting down of empires, of Babylon, of Persia, of Greece, or of Rome, were all parts of one mighty plan, to bring men for salvation to the Redeemer’s cross; nor that the irruption of the northern barbarians, the destruction of old and the founding of new kingdoms, the successes of the false prophet in the east, or of the papacy in the west, the discovery of the new continent, the revolutions of Germany, the convulsions of France and Spain, the civilisation of Russian hordes, the vast extension of British power, and the wide-spreading influence of the American Republic, are only so many links in the chain of causes and effects with which are connected the second coming of our Lord and the triumph of the Church in glory. Here then is the difference between these two classes; the one seeking continually to pour in new knowledge into the lamp of prophecy that it may burn brighter and brighter; the other, from unbelief, neglecting the acquisition and the application of that knowledge, and suffering the lamp almost to expire for want of feeding it with its proper nutriment.

But on this subject there is another and a most important consideration. All the members of the two classes whom I have described are not competent of themselves to obtain or to dispense this knowledge. It pleased God therefore to make a special provision for this purpose; before the first coming of Christ, by the Patriarchal and the Levitical priesthood; after the first, and until the second coming, by the Christian priesthood. Hence when the voice of prophecy ceased before our Lord’s coming, the latest of the prophets was inspired to direct the people to the priesthood, and to lay upon the priesthood that necessary burden: “The priest’s lip should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts.” [Mal. ii.7] And accordingly, when the Eastern Sages demanded at Jerusalem where Christ should be born, Herod thought not of applying to any other source, but “gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together” [Matt ii.] to inspect the prophecies and answer the question. So also in the Christian Church the same responsible duty is assigned by our Lord to those whom he hath appointed. In that remarkable chapter in which the nature of his kingdom is illustrated by so many and such various similitudes, (I mean the thirteenth of St. Matthew), after asking his disciples if they understood his meaning, he added what is in fact an awful admonition of the duties as well as the privileges of the Christian priesthood; “Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matt. xiii. 51-52] The priesthood are called “to be messengers, watchmen and stewards of the Lord; to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family.” Such is God’s arrangement; and the wise members of his Church, who are not able to acquire by their own learning and observation that knowledge by which the prophecies can be explained, will apply for it to those whom God hath appointed to dispense from the storehouse of his Church, things new and old, which it is their duty constantly to lay up for the use of the Lord’s family. But what, on the other hand, is the conduct of the foolish? Forgetful of God’s positive injunctions to go to his appointed ministers; forgetful of our Lord’s warning that many should come in his name and deceive many; forgetful of the prohibitions not to go forth from the Church which is God’s city, into the wilderness, nor from the Church which is God’s home, into the secret chambers; they rush forth at every cry of “lo, here is Christ, or lo, there,” and seek to trim the lamp of prophecy, with the false knowledge of every ignorant and uncommissioned pretender. Whereas, one of the great uses of prophecy is to bind men to that Church which God himself hath declared to be the pillar and ground of the truth. The oil of knowledge must be pure, not thick and viscid, if we would have the light burn brightly; and therefore men should seek for it where God hath ordered it to be distributed. By a comparison of the expositions of prophecy which have been made at various times in God’s Church we are enabled to see how far in every age it has been fulfilled and understood. The gradual unfolding of events renders that intelligible which was obscure; and thus we are brought onward by insensible approaches towards the dawn, having enough of light to increase our faith, and enough obscurity to keep it in constant exercise. This will be more properly considered under our third head,

III.–THE INTENT OF PROPHECY

I have already remarked that all the prophecies may be arranged under two heads; the one intended to prepare for our Lord’s first coming, the other for his second coming; the one vouchsafed to the Patriarchal and Levitical dispensations, the other designed more especially for the Christian Church. Now, by considering the manner in which the first operated, we may safely infer how the last should operate.

No sooner had the darkness begun by the sin of Adam than the lamp of prophecy was lighted. The Saviour was announced as the seed of the woman; and the promise was given, that the great spiritual enemy who had deprived them of the light of God’s countenance, should by that seed be overcome. But when, or how, or by whom, all this should be effected, they knew not. The lamp burnt dimly because the oil of knowledge was but scantily bestowed. There was just enough of light to kindle hope in their hearts, and to keep them from despair, but not enough to do away the darkness, or, as if their sin had been slight or trifling; to make them presume upon God’s mercy.

Ingratitude to God, a disposition to disobey his will, and a desire to substitute the sovereignty of the creature for that of the Creator, are the characteristics of fallen man. Hence proceeded the denial of God, and the varied forms of idolatry. The foolish heart of man was darkened, the oil of knowledge was not sought, and to all save only to one family the light was quenched in the horrors of a watery deluge.

With Noah and the patriarchal church the lamp of prophecy was rekindled; but in less than four hundred years, mankind had again turned from the light, to walk in the darkness of idolatry and moral corruption. God chose the faithful Abraham to keep alive the flame, suffering it gradually to expire among the surrounding nations.

Even these special mercies were long ineffectual. A constant succession of prophets, by whom the Lord was pleased to make bare his arm, did not cure the chosen people even of the sin of idolatry, until they had suffered the terrible chastisement of a national captivity. From that time we read not of any inclination among the inhabitants of Judah to serve the gods of the nations, and therefore the lamp of prophecy concerning the coming of the promised seed was then made to burn with a brighter and more steady flame. The time in which the promised Redeemer should come began to be calculated. The expectation of the near approach of that time, founded on the prophecies, became general. And thus we are at once presented with a clear and distinct view of the intent for which those prophecies were given, which began with the Babylonish captivity and ended with the finishing of the second temple. It was not to give men a definite knowledge of futurity. It was not to enable them to say exactly in what year the Christ would come, or the exact manner of his coming. If it had been, the very purpose of these prophecies would have been defeated. For St. Paul argues that “none of the princes of this world knew the wisdom of God a mystery; for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” [1 Cor. ii. 7, 8] What more apt description of prophecy could there be, than the expression here used by the Apostle, “The wisdom of God in a mystery?” The princes of this world fulfilled the prophecies because they did not understand them. There was enough of light to make them sure that the time was at hand for Christ’s coming. They knew that the prophetic weeks of Daniel were drawing near to their close. They knew from Haggai [Hag. ii. 7, 9] and Malachi [Mal. iii. 1] that the Lord whom they sought would suddenly come to that very temple then standing. And they might have known from Daniel [Dan. ix. 26] that the Messiah should be cut off, and the city and sanctuary destroyed. But the clear meaning of these prophecies was proved only by the events; and even now, sure as we are of the time when our Lord first came, there is great difficulty in deciding when the seventy weeks of Daniel began and ended, and what is the precise meaning of the whole of that remarkable prediction. Yet this obscurity, and this utter impossibility, did not hinder the holy Simeon, the devout Anna, and all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem, from inquiring diligently what the Spirit should mean. And it deserves our especial consideration that the Holy Ghost rewarded the righteousness and piety and earnest desire for knowledge of holy Simeon, by revealing to him that he should not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Yet, if the weeks of Daniel ended, as some have thought, with our Lord’s crucifixion, or as others have imagined, at the destruction of the city and temple by the Romans, the prediction of the Holy Ghost was fulfilled to Simeon more than seventy, or at the earliest calculation, more than thirty years before the seventy weeks were terminated. Here then is the most certain evidence that the intention of prophecy was to keep men perpetually on the watch, on account of the very uncertainty as to the time of its fulfillment. Any absolute certainty would have defeated the very design for which it was given. There was light enough to enable all pious believers under the old dispensation to know about the time for the first coming of Christ, provided they sought for the pure oil of knowledge where God ordered them to seek it, and then were careful to keep their lamp trimmed and burning.

The same order which the Holy Ghost observed in preparing for the first coming of our Lord, is now plainly visible, in the preparation for his second coming. In the New Testament there are prophecies added to the Old; by our Lord himself in the gospels; by the Apostles Paul, James, Peter, Jude and John in their Epistles; and especially by the last named Apostle in the Apocalypse or Revelation. All have reference to this last age, last generation, period, or dispensation; all of which are only various terms to denote the duration of the Christian Church, from the first coming of our Lord in the flesh, till his second coming in glorious majesty. We see in these prophecies, the same designed obscurity which existed under the old dispensation; and that precisely for the same object,–namely, to rouse our attention, to excite our faith in God’s overruling providence, to animate our hopes, to encourage our exertions, but not to gratify our curiosity, or enable us to anticipate the future.

An irregular desire of knowledge was the occasion of man’s fall. It is therefore the design of God to humble us unto the acknowledgment of His infinite power and wisdom, and our own utter ignorance and insufficiency. We are required to walk by faith, not by sight; to possess our souls in patience; to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; and to watch and pray because we know not the hour of our Lord’s coming. To make known that hour comes not within the commission of our Lord as the head of the Mediatorial kingdom; for he himself hath said “Of that day and that hour knoweth (a Hebrew expression meaning maketh known) no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven; neither the Son, but the Father.” He tells his disciples the special reason for this mystery. ”Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is.” And he adds the solemn declaration that this mystery must continue even to the end: “What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch.”

The premature disclosure of the exact time of our Lord’s second coming not being the purpose or intent of the prophetic word, let us proceed to consider, in the fourth and last place,

IV.–THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPHECY.

After what has been said of the certainty, use and intent of prophecy, little need be added concerning its importance. When God speaks to his creatures “by the mouth of his holy prophets”–the message must be important. Whether we can or cannot understand it, makes no difference. If not understood, it is the greater trial of our faith. But its importance to us is to be measured by the duties it imposes; and these will he best considered if we divide them into the duties of the Clergy and of the Laity.

The duties of the Clergy grow out of their office in the Church of God as Stewards and as Watchmen.

As Stewards it is their duty to keep knowledge; not merely that learning which enables them to understand the text of Scripture, but a knowledge of past history and a Christian view of the present. It cannot be expected that all God’s ministers should be equally learned; but the learning ought to exist somewhere; and it is the duty of the Church to see that it be as much diffused as possible. The appointed Steward brings forth from the treasures which the Lord hath put into his keeping things new and old. He studies the prophecies in their original tongue; he examines the ancient and modem translations; he searches the interpretation which has been made of them from age to age. In this way, he is enabled to know all that the reason and learning of antecedent ages have been able to effect. Not content with this merely, he consults the pages of sacred and profane history; he weighs conflicting testimony; he examines accurately the dates on which the computations of prophecy are founded. As the course of events can alone unlock the meaning of prophecy, he marks the workings of God’s moral government of states and nations, and compares with them the language of prophecy; not with the view of establishing some favorite theory, but of determining if possible how far the mystery can be clearly solved, and how far it is yet impenetrable. All this is done, not for himself personally, but for all those whom God hath entrusted to his care.

As a watchman his duty is twofold; first, “to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s word;” and secondly, to warn and exhort the faithful to prepare for the second corning of their Lord.

The duties of the laity proceed also from their station in the Church of God. That portion of it to which we belong, puts into the hands of the humblest and the most ignorant of her children, the precious word of God as a lamp that burneth; but avoiding too much deference to human authority on the one hand, and too little regard for the wisdom of past ages on the other, she requires them to seek for knowledge of those who have been set over them in the Lord. It is a fearful and a perilous thing when men usurp an office which does not belong to them, and for which they are not qualified. “My Brethren,” says St. James, “be not many masters, knowing that ye shall receive the greater condemnation.” The office of an Interpreter of God’s word is one of awful responsibility. He must not only keep his own lamp trimmed and burning, but he mast also provide for the many who seek at his mouth that pure knowledge which maketh them wise unto salvation. Who does not tremble at the thought that his ignorance may cause their light to be extinguished!

Followers of Jesus Christ, ye are standing with the light of prophecy in your hands. The stewards of God’s mysteries are continually by his command enabling you to keep it trimmed and burning. The watchmen on the walls of God’s city are anxiously looking out for the dawn and the rising of the morning star. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. It is high time to awake out of sleep. Whether surprised by death or by judgment is to you the same thing. Such as ye are at the close of life, such will ye be in the morning of the resurrection. In either case, YE KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR THE HOUR IN WHICH THE SON OF MAN COMETH.

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