As the posterity of Jacob is embraced in the thing sand conditions of time, so also, being embraced in the things which are eternal, their interest and aspirations lead them to seek out the higher sphere of life. The beginning, the growth and the perfection of all animated creation, follows a rule of harmony and order, according to the wise provisions of an overruling Creator, so also in all the creation of God all things work together in perfect harmony and order. The face of all nature presents to our finite understanding the work of the wise Master-builder of the universe. He has set the order of time for all things and all events, the day and the night as ruled by the heavenly bodies, the seed time and harvest. The voice of wisdom says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” We then, being subject to time conditions, must fulfill the requirements of the passage of time. To consider the subjects of “Time and Eternity “we must take them in their regular order, as they concern us. It is declared,” Howbeit that was not first that was spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” This is as it relates to man’s progress in time, in the works of man which are natural, and in the fruit-bearing of the same man according to the Spirit. Time necessarily has a beginning and an ending. We cannot speak of eternity before time and eternity after time, for eternity has neither beginning or ending, but an ever-blessed now. God inhabiteth eternity, we inhabit time. All that we know outside of the boundaries of time is revealed to us by the Spirit of God, therefore the knowledge we have of eternal things is by the faith of God. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Then if we take up the travel of the church of Christ, or the experimental travel of the individuals composing that precious body, it must be as they travel through time. In the experience of both, certain conditions prevail at certain times. The church of Christ belongs both to time and eternity. In its passage through time it is called the church militant, and as we behold it (by faith) in eternity we speak of it as the church triumphant. The church militant has existed in three distinct epochs or dispensations from the beginning of time, the first from Adam to Moses, under an unwritten and unpublished law, a condition in which sin abounded only in the consciences of the subjects of grace, who were at that time called “The sons of God.” From Moses to Christ the law entered and was published that sin might abound, and they who came under that published law became conscious of the sentence of death pronounced upon them, of their condemnation under the law, and of the just judgment of God concerning them. The condition of the church was in these two epochs, mystical, sacredly obscure by reason of the darkness through which she must travel, also emblematical of wondrous things in righteousness which were to be revealed by God’s love and mercy. And now the third epoch of time, no more mystical, but visible; by faith we behold her as did the bride in the Canticles; when looking over the field of battles fought and victories won, she asks the question: “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Being immersed in clouds of darkness under sin for four thousand years, time recording upon its pages her history, and the word of life which kept her alive indelibly registered in the heart of her people, she emerges from the long, dark night into the refulgent glory of the risen Sun of righteousness, and as time goes on one by one, all over this broad land, the sons of glory are, by an experience of the grace of God, brought into the fellowship of the sufferings of our risen Redeemer. Now, as never before, in visibility and in reality, time life and life eternal inhabit the same body of the creature of Adam. Of these who were blessed in the gift of the Father, Jesus saith: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life.” This blessed condition is vouchsafed unto us in time, by which we fulfill our days in the hope of the resurrection, having a foretaste therein of the joys of eternity. Doors leading into the temple of our God stand ajar, and by faith we are permitted to glance for a moment at a time into the wondrous and glorious riches of the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of our God, to the full fruition of which we are looking when the vail of mortality is removed. Time and eternity as they are made manifest in the travel of the children of God, are so closely interwoven that only the understanding of faith can distinguish the one from the other. All things of time are subject to decay and death, and all perish with the using, while on the other hand, it is declared, that, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me [the Lord Jesus Christ] shall never die.” The law of an endless life is in direct opposition to the law of sin and death, and this constitutes the conflict in the christian warfare. This is why we suffer and are humbled, “for we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” The days and years of our life in the flesh are then but the working out (by faith) of our own salvation with fear and trembling the thing which God hath wrought in us. In other words, all the days and years of our pilgrimage are made up in manifesting the life of Jesus in our mortal body, first, how he came under the law to redeem us from under the law, and how that work was accomplished through his death, his burial and his resurrection from the dead. In this life in the flesh, where time never for a moment stops or turns back, we also go on through darkness, discouragement, suffering and all tribulation, impelled by the invisible power of God’s love, never wavering, with no thought of turning back, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Therefore do we “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” These are foretastes of the joys of eternity. Now we look through the vail of the flesh and behold the face of our Lord as through a glass darkly, but when the vail is removed we shall behold such things as are not now lawful for us to utter. May we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope firm unto the end.
B. F. COULTER.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa., April 12, 1905.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 73, No. 11
June 1, 1905