It is not unusual to witness the opening of a year, to write an Introductory to a volume of a few short months: but it is given us only once in a life time to witness the dawn of a new century; to mark the opening of a century of years. Perhaps nothing more absolutely stamps upon all mortality its passing, fading nature than these constant, recurring reminders of the rapid flight of time. A year has passed! But a mere moment in God’s account; a century has been forever rolled into oblivion; yet it is but a mere speck of creation.
What events are crowded into that century! What anguish, and mortal woe! What wickedness and injustice! What manifestation of human and total depravity! The cry of the oppressed, the pilgrims and strangers in a hard land of desert and sin. But over all of these developments the God of Power and Glory has presided. All has come to pass in accordance with His all-powerful, and all-wise designs; for
“Not a sparrow or a worm,
But’s found in His decrees.”
We measure properly if we measure the events of passing years as they stand related to Gospel development. All words, events, times and seasons are but a scaffolding around this glorious development; to bring into manifestation the glory of God in the travel of His Church. There would be no need of a world if it were not for this glorious and heavenly development.
“When man was created,
What wisdom we see,
The whole He possessed, was
The image of Thee;
But, oh! In his fall, we
Are led to espy,
‘Twas all for the lifting
Of Jesus on high.”
Creation proclaims this wonderful truth; “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” – Romans i, 20. Again we are told: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” – Psalm xix, 1-3.
This Divine testimony is clearly corroborated throughout the Holy Scriptures. The world was brought into being for an exhibition of the power and glory of God. These glorious purposes are being fast fulfilled, and there will soon be no further need for this world.
With these facts before us we can but feel a supreme contempt, yes, and sometimes a sense of sadness for the vain, arrogant boasting heard continually around us from press, from pulpit, from every public forum, and at every cross roads where the sons and daughters of men congregate, regarding what the wisdom and fancied powers of this world expect to accomplish in the development of the present century. Of the many millions who assembled last New Year’s night in the public halls of earth in vain, boastful glee, to worship at the idolatrous altar of human prowess; already e’re one short month has passed, hundreds of thousands of these poor creatures are numbered with the dead, their vain, boastful tongues are silenced forever in the cold, all-conquering clasp of death.
Much like a great deal of what we see about us was the proud revelry of Belshazzar’s feast. “They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, and of stone.” One would suppose that the frightful evidences that we have named of the helplessness of mortality would be an object lesson to those that remain; but our God has otherwise ordered. He has sent “them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” He has ordained that the carnal mind should be “enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of the world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” – 1 Cor. ii, 7,8. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.” – 1 Cor. ii, 20,21.
We stand in the solemn dawn of another century, our God only knows, it may be the last that He will ever grant to time. We hear, if we hear aright, not the vain shout of earth’s rabble, but a sound as of distant thunder of the perfect works of God. Each moment is to manifest His sovereign independent will, to unfold His glorious work.
Before His throne all power lies awaiting His command. Plagues, disease, and death are instruments in His hands; empires, nations, men, and devils are but mere puppets at His command. In supreme confidence then, dear children of the living God, we calmly face the coming years. To this “holy nation,” they can bring no lasting evil, but “everlasting good.” In the womb of coming years, wonderful, startling, and fearful events are held. We shall continue to see “perilous times.”
Upon the great questions that come before us affecting the Israel of God, The Sectarian, by the grace of God, in the future as in the past, will take no middle road of compromises. We stand pledged to the principles of the doctrine and the order of Gospel grace. These things must be maintained inviolable in the true Church of Christ. The pollutions of the world must not; yea our God (Isaiah lii, 1) says, shall not enter there.
The Church of the living God is the only undefiled institution under the wide canopy of heaven. “God is in the midst of her.” A circle of living light is drawn around her upon which is written, “Holiness to the Lord.”
In contending for these great and vital principles we are to know no man after the flesh. In opposing innovations upon the doctrine and the order of the Gospel, our eye (Deuteronomy xiii, 6-10) must not pity, or hand shall not spare. “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the Presence of God.” – Psalm lxviii, 1,2.
Elder William M. Smoot,