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As with a hasty bound we leap from the receding into the approaching year, an appreciating sense of the goodness of God, his abounding mercy and preserving providence to usward swell our hearts with unfeigned love and gratitude to him whose goodness and mercy have followed us all our days. He changes not, therefore we are not consumed. Not a moment of our life have we been without his care; for should he forget to be gracious, or but once withhold his support, how fatal would be the result. Yet how strangely forgetful are we of that hand that bears us up, of the everlasting arms which are underneath us, of that God who rideth upon the heavens in our help, and in his excellency on the sky. The year now closing upon us has filled up the appointed time of millions of our race, and they have left these earthly shores and gone to that destiny to which all the surviving tribes of mankind are rapidly tending. The “signs of the times” to the observance of which our publication has long been devoted, are constantly changing so as to correctly augur approaching events. As the trees are attired with blossoms and foliage when summer is nigh, so to the careful observer of the “signs of the times,” indications of coming events are given, and for them God’s children are instructed and admonished to watch. Signs of the impending destruction of Jerusalem were multiplied, and when the disciples of Jesus should see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, they should know that the judgment was at the door. So also in regard to the inauguration of anti-christian abominations; they should be ushered in “with all signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” And the destruction of anti-christ shall be preceded by signs which shall be clearly perceptible to the enlightened children of God, but perfectly dark and unintelligible to the doomed. The apostasy of some who had professed the truth is prominent among the fearful signs of the approaching perdition of the ungodly. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” I Tim.4:1,2. This sign has been clearly discoverable, not in the rise of popery, with the papists, nor in the abominations of the protestants, for none of these ever held the faith of the gospel as it was once delivered to the saints. They have always been at war with the faith, so that they cannot be justly charged with having departed from what they never held. But apostate Baptists who have departed from the faith and order for which they once contended, and for which thousands suffered cruel scourgings, imprisonment, and even martyrdom, when they stood with us and were recognized as a part of the church of Christ, have departed from the faith. They have given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and are now speaking lies in hypocrisy. Thus their degeneracy and apostasy manifestly portends the near approach of their final destruction. Again, the same inspired apostle adds, in his second epistle to Timothy, 3:1-7, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Such are some of the prominent signs indicative of the near approach of that day when the cup of anti-christian abomination shall be full, and when Babylon with all her witchcrafts and delusion shall sink beneath the wrath of God like a millstone, and be found no more at all. When all her merchants who have become enriched by the abundance of her merchandise shall stand afar off and bewail her utter ruin. As among the sings which the disciples were commanded to watch and which they were to regard as evident tokens of the impending ruin of the old Jerusalem, there were to be wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes in diverse places; so we have even now these fearful signs added to those of apostasy, and abounding wickedness in high places. Wars of the most horrid and brutal description, and rumors of wars keep the world in turmoil, and while the earth is being literally shaken with volcanic eruptions. Can we flatter ourselves that these are not ominous of fearful impending events? While we would await patiently the coming of the day of wrath, it cannot be wise to treat lightly these solemn indications. If it was enjoined upon the primitive saints to exhort one another, and much more as they saw the day approaching, should not those who today read, strive to understand?

The apostle says to the saints, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” II Thes.5:1-3. Here then is another infallible evidence given to the children of light, but withheld from the enemies of the truth. When they shall say, Peace and safety, then cometh upon them that say it sudden destruction; that day of the Lord shall come upon all such as a thief in the night. But who are they that say, Peace and safety? Are they not evidently those of whom the prophet wrote, saying, “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves?” Isa.28:15.

The covenant with death, and the agreement with hell, are figurative expressions, and evidently signify the confidence which they repose in and upon what they have done for themselves to avert the day of the wrath of God, and to conciliate death and hell. With no reliance on the covenant which God himself has made with his chosen, which is ordered in all things and sure, they have, from the regions of death itself, procured that covenant on which they trust. With the darkness of death upon them, wrapped in its pall and under its reigning power, from the whited sepulchres of their own carnal wisdom, they have secured a theory on which they rely. All their religion and reliance is but a covenant with death, and all their flattering hopes of security based on emanations from the prince of darkness under whose delusive power they are firmly held, their theory is in agreement with hell. All the hope on which they rely resting on seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, has its foundation in the depths of hell, and their agreement is with hell; the love they now have for the doctrines of men and devils, which owe their paternity to him who is a liar and the father of lies, make them feel confident that opposition to God, to truth and holiness, which they so dearly love and so zealously obey, will never hurt them. And they trust in the lies which they regard as their refuge, and the falsehoods under which they have hidden to protect them from the overflowing scourge when God shall send his dreadful wrath abroad. That such a scourge is coming they seem apprehensive, and that it shall overwhelm somebody, they do not dispute; but the pharisees say it will destroy the publicans and sinners, but it will not come to them. The papists say it will catch the protestants, and the protestants retort, it will sweep away the Catholics; but they have entrenched themselves so securely in their own delusions, they all shall cry, Peace and safety. So shall it be with them until, like a thief in the night, or as it was in the days of Noah with those who perished in the flood, or as the lightning coming out of the east and shining even to the west, so shall that day come upon them. “And,” {God himself has said,} “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” But to the apostolic saints the apostle adds, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Of this consoling truth he had before assured them that they had a perfect knowledge. For says he, “ Ye are all the children of light, and children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” All the inspired apostle recognized as his brethren were and are, not by covenant made by themselves with death, but by a heavenly birth, the children of the light. In being born of God they are made partakers of that life that was in Christ when he was made flesh. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Without this birth not a particle of spiritual life can shine into any of the sons of men; so then all who are born of that life which is light are by that birth made manifest as the children of light, and children of the day. And except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual {being born of the Spirit} judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” I Cor. 2:14,15. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Cor.4:6. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John 17:1-4. This supreme glory Christ had with the Father before the world was, and in him as the Mediatorial Head of the church, power over all flesh was vested, that he should give eternal life, which is the true light, unto as many as the Father has given to him. To give this light then requires a display of the glory which the Son of God had with his Father before the world was. No power short of this can give one spark of spiritual light to a dead sinner. All who suppose they have received it from any other source than Christ are deceived, deluded, and still under the power of darkness, from which none but Jesus can translate them into his marvelous light. To have this life which is the true light, we must be born of it; for no other birth or education can make any of us anything more or less than natural men; and natural men cannot know the things of the Spirit of God, because they are only spiritually discerned.

And all who are born of this life and light are the children of the light, and the children of the day. To be children in any sense, always implies a birth. Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. The Lord God is our Sun and Shield. The natural sun which God hath enthroned in the firmament above us to rule the day, was never discovered by mortals by any other than its own light. And certainly no mortal ever saw the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus, until the same God who commanded light to shine out of darkness when he created the world, was pleased to reveal his Son in him. Then, brethren, ye being born and children of the light, know perfectly that the day of which we have been speaking shall not overtake you as a thief. It shall indeed so overtake and surprise the children of the night, the children of darkness. We do not profess to know the day nor the hour when the wheels of nature shall cease to revolve, for that is not a matter of revelation; nor is it necessary, for us to know it, as it is ordained that we shall live and walk by faith. Yet, though “it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:7, still it becomes us to heed the signs which indicate the near approach of the day of the Lord; for the saints shall see it approaching. Heb. 10:25. The saints addressed by the apostle, I Thess.5:5, “Are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” Therefore he exhorts them, saying, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” A watchful vigilance is urged upon the children of the light. Not only, as we understand, are we to watch the movements of the powers of darkness in filling up the cup, or measure of their wickedness, but we are to watch the providential government of God, who holds a control over all beings, all events, and all worlds, and mark the exact fulfillment of all the orders of his throne, and especially watch the portentous signs which he has promised to display for the instruction of his people. And we are also admonished to be sober; not enthusiastic, but cool, deliberate and patient. Shun the intoxicating cup which has maddened the world. Look at things as they really are. The opening of the seven seals, the sounding of the seven trumpets, the utterance of the thunders, pouring out of the vials of the wrath of God, the final fall of Babylon, destruction of the dragon, the beasts, and the false prophet, should not excite alarm, or cause the saints to be dismayed. It is the triumph of truth over error, of holiness over sin, of our God over Satan, and in that victory all the children of the light shall participate. Rather be it ours in that most terrible day to shout with the psalmist, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” Psa. 45:3,4.

Fast as the wheels of nature move, the harvest of the earth is ripening for the wine press of the wrath of God. To us it seems that we are now living in the time of the pouring out of the sixth vial. Three unclean spirits have come forth out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; for they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Rev. 16:12-14. These spirits of devils are now being belched forth from all the ministry or mouth pieces of the dragon, beast, and false prophet, working miracles with all signs and lying wonders, to excite influence, and corrupt the kings of the earth and all governments of the world, {not excepting our own} to gather them and marshal their hosts, consolidate their powers, and put them in defiant array against God in this final conflict which is called the battle of the great day of God Almighty. But our glorious Leader, mounted on his white horse, with his crown and his bow, has plunged into the battle. His cheering voice amidst the tumult is heard, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Rev.16:15. “And they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Rev.17:14. And to the announcement of the sudden approach of our conquering King, the church with joy responds, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” For that day shall not overtake them as a thief.

Middletown, N.Y.
January 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe