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“WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?”

WHERE wanderest thou, lonely traveler? From whence hast thou come? Travel-stained art thou, and thy feet are bruised and bleeding; in thy face are lines of care and sorrow, thy whole demeanor bespeaketh dark places through which thou hast passed; surely sore trials and deep troubles have been thy portion in this thy solitary journey. Thou lookest not as one who sleekest earthly treasure or earthly comforts. Thine eyes sparkle with an heavenly luster, though wear and footsore, and heavily burdened. Ever and anon one like unto thee comest this way, seeking, he saith, an heavenly country. But whence comest thou? Out of Seir, sayest thou? from the wilderness, by the mountains of Sinai? The burden which thou bearest then, is “The burden of Dumah.” Thy country is Edom, the place of thine abode is silence, darkness, while thy clothing denotes thee as of the nativity of Esau. Thy speech also is the speech of him who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, and who was a cunning hunter in the mountains round about Hebron. It is then out of this darkness and silence of the dark dispensation under the law that thou callest in tones of despair to him that standeth upon the watch tower, saying, “Watchman, what of the night?” “Watchman, what of the night?’ or in other words, the desires of thy flesh hath consumed thee, thou hast lusted for the fleshpots of Egypt, thy candle hath gone out, and thou art poor, and naked, and blind, and wretched, and miserable. Thy face hath turned from Jerusalem, and now thy footsteps are toward Jericho. But thy blinded eyes are now opened to thy folly, repentance taketh up its sweet abode in thy heart, in consequence of which thou lookest for the watchman, and when thou hast found him, thou callest unto him out of the Seir, “Watchman, what of the night?” “Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman never turneth a deaf ear to the penitent, sorrowing soul, so in sweet assurance he answereth thy appeal, saying, “The morning cometh, and also the night.” How gracious are the words of promise, “The morning cometh.” Thy heart longeth for the morning. In all the annals of time, has there ever been a soul that hath not longed for the coming of the light of the natural day? Or one who has not looked and longed for the coming of day, the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, during the long, black night in Seir? And each one in its appointed hour has received the same sweet word of promise, “The morning cometh,” but with it always comes the gentle note of warning, “and also the night.” After the night has passed and the morning light has come, how soon we forget the hardships through which we have passed, and forgetting begets carelessness, and soon we find we have slipped back into by and forbidden paths. But, lonely traveler, what cheer? Thou hast found the watchman, and received his words and signs of promise, why inquires thou at every milestone? What is the burden of thy inquiry? Does Dumah still oppress thee? Is thy neck still unseemly bent beneath the yoke of thine enemy? The watchman, sayest thou, taking note of thy condition, with pity and sympathy he has looked upon thy sorrow and repentance, and now he kindly whispers in thine ear, “If ye will inquire, inquire ye.” So thy hope is revived, and thou art again inquiring the way of Zion, saying, Although I am not worthy, yet I will return to my Father’s house, craving forgiveness and a servant’s place. Does the watchman say more unto thee? Does he further encourage thee? Why those tears that courseth down thy cheeks? Art thou still unhappy? No, no, many times no, sayest thou; my tears are tears of thankfulness and joy, because (notwithstanding my unworthiness and depravity) hath embraced me, taken me by the hand, saying, “Return, come.” My faith is revived, and answers to the faith of the watchman, Therefore I, even I, with the “ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: thy [and I] shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Thy song has greatly changed, O traveler, since first I spake with thee; it is no more a song of the night, but in the morning light art thou. Light and knowledge and great gladness have come into thy soul, and dost thou ascribe praise and glory to the watchman for this transformation? O no, the watchman is but my fellow-traveler, to God, the Father of all, the glory belongs, and unto his glorious name do I ascribe all praise. Adeiu.

B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 19
OCTOBER 1, 1904.