Occoquan,VK, August, 1913
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the Indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." Isa. 26:20,21.
No book could ever emanate from the mind of man that could in any possible degree compare with the Bible, which is pre-eminently the Book of Books. Its sacred testimony needs no addition, but it is true and applicable to every age and condition; tracing the travel of the church through all consecutive time: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." Romans 15:4.
July 21, 1861, which was the third Sunday in the month the first battle of Bull Run was fought. This was the first general engagement in the Civil War, and was upon the day of the monthly meeting of the church at Upper Broad Run, Fauquier County, Virginia. The late Elder RC. Leachman preached on that day in the meeting house of that church not many miles distant from the battle field.
While Elder Leachman was preaching the roar of the cannon of the opposing armies could be distinctly heard. Elder Leachman preached from the text at the head of this article; a most appropriate discourse indeed, from a most appropriate text.
For four years the churches of Virginia were, to a large extent, deprived of their monthly meetings. Elder Leachman himself being, part of this time, held as a prisoner in Washington, D.C., by the Federal forces; during which time he preached in prison, in his bold and fearless manner, much to the discomfort of his enemies.
Yet during these years of fiery trial the Baptist (Old School) of Virginia were blessed with much spiritual enjoyment. We have heard old members like the late Deacon George Selecman, and others who were detained as prisoners in Alexandria, Virginia (having permission to go at large in the city) tell of the many blessed moments spent with the membership of the church in Alexandria, and at the monthly meeting by brethren thus detained. And we question whether a brighter page adorned the record of that church than her meetings socially and otherwise in the dark days of the Civil War; as the members went about from "house to house" to talk of the wonders of grace; and to experience the precious evidences of fellowship abounding.
From a natural view-point it seems incredible, yet from Bible testimony and from Baptist history it is a fact, that the visible church is much more pure in her doctrine and order in a time of persecution than in a time of outward peace. Worldly ease and luxury begets indifference, and a desire to be conformed to worldly ways.
Elder Leachman's text and sermon at Broad Run certainly seemed prophetic. For four years the saints were hidden from the wrath of their enemies, and when the war had spent its force, the church shone forth with renewed vigor in the beauty and splendor of gospel grace. She came forth from her hiding clothed with renewed strength and zeal; and under the able ministry of Elder R. C. Leachman began a glorious travel, the blessed results of which our churches are realizing today.
Our mind turns to this incident as we pen the text at the head of this article. The Scriptures are as old as eternity, and as new as their latest development. "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." Matthew 13:52.
God is ever the secure refuge of his people, their Defender, Protector, and Guide in all of their mortal pilgrimage. In the opening of the chapter in which our text occures the prophet speaks of the "strong city" which is the refuge of saints with Salvation for her "walls and bulwarks". Assuredly there could be no greater security surrounding the holy city; her walls and bulwarks are not for salvation, but are the very thing itself.
And into this "strong city" "the righteous nation which keepeth the truth" shall enter. Here shall they securely rest from the envenomed shafts of their enemies; yea, when worlds are tumbling down. For "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee."
It has been the good pleasure of Israel's God to open up the pathway of life and light through the dark scenes of sorrow and temptation. The evening comes before the morning, (Genesis 1:5) and behind the morning is the night. In the connection of our text the prophet so describes it. It was a time of great trial "like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord." Isaiah 26:17.
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee." In such a time of great trial assuredly did and will the Lord open a refuge for His afflicted people who cry unto Him in their distresses. "I will", He declares, "turn mind hand upon the little ones." Zechariah 13:7. They shall shelter under the canopy of His o'er-shadowing wings' in the safe enclosure of His eternal arms. "Hide thyself as it were for a little moment." How completely and securely can He hide them from the wrath of their enemies! The case of Elijah recorded in I Kings 17 and 18, is a fitting example. "And the word of the Lord came unto him saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." I Kings 17:2-4. And when the brook dried up, "The word of the Lord came unto him saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath which belongeth to Zidon I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." Verses 7,8,9.
The original application of the text we presume notices more especially the sheltering wings of the atonement of Christ; allusion to which is made in verse 19; "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise." And did he not open a refuge for his "little ones" (turn his hand upon them) in that dread hour when the shepherd was smitten, and the sheep were scattered. Matthew 26:31. Was there not to them "a covert from the tempest", "the shadow of the great rock in a weary land." Isa. 32:2; and in this secure place of refuge they found rest; fitting testimony, a secure and sacred retreat to saints in all their mortal journey.
But an indirect application of our subject is found all through the mortal pilgrimage of saints, in times of great distress when "The Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." As Lot was made to flee out of Sodom before the end came; as the children of Gospel grace were called out of Jerusalem, and from Judea (Matthew 24:16) before the destruction of that city, so "the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Peter 2:9. The Lord will keep His people "As the apple of his eye." Deuteronomy 32:10.
Assuredly does He punish a community for its wickedness, when it rises before Him as a stench in His nostrils. It was thus He punished Babylon and Tyre, and a host of others, and even His own chosen people who had forsaken His covenant, and trampled upon His holy commandments.
We see evidences of the application of this testimony in the special manner in which Elder Leachman evidently applied it upon the occasion referred to. It has been the good pleasure of Israel's God from time to time to open a refuge for His people from the devouring flames and floods of His wrath. It is written in Psalms 91:4,5,6,7; "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day: nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness: nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."
Wonderful, precious, and enduring promise is this! to them that trust in the Lord (notice the first three verses) and who are found walking in His holy ordinances. It was of these witnesses that it is written in Revelation 11:5, "And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed." Again in Psalms 27:5, "In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock." And in Psalms 31:19,20, "Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou heat wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."
We question whether in any previous age there has been a more marked display of "the pride of man" referred to by the Psalmist than at present. On every wind is borne the proud boast of human achievement; which really is but a mere vain bubble of human folly and conceit. The human family seems intoxicated with the idea of their own importance and ability when in reality "the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance." Isaiah 40:15.
It is evident from Divine testimony that we are reaching the end of all mortality; and in these last days as the wickedness of man becomes more pronounced, and abominations prevail, as the vain human mind inflated with conceit, worshipping the creature more than the Creator, carried away with gross idolatry, must from time to time receive "in themselves that recompense of their error", that punishment for their sins which was meet. Romans 1:27. Rich beyond all comparison of wealth, infinitely beyond the power of man to compute, or the human mind to conceive, would be the party, if such a thing were possible, as purchasing the present generation at what they are really worth, and selling them at the estimate the they put upon themselves!
In Revelation 16:14, we are told of "a noisome and grievous sore" which fell "upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image." The effect of the terrible judgments of Almighty God upon mankind so far as their taking heed to or understanding such things is well described in Revelation 9:20,21; "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk; Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." What a picture all this of present day conditions. "And all the world wondered after the beast: and they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" Revelation 13:3,4. Do we not often stand aghast at the servile worship of a vain, ignorant, and thoughtless world of the inventions of men, as they madly rush from one vile thing to yet another abomination, wondering indeed at the great goodness and mercy of God in sparing, and supplying the temporal needs of a people whose vain, weak, and sinful lives are spent in blaspheming the name of the Most High God; in joining the Babel shout heard upon Shinar's plains (Genesis 11:1-9) whose proud, arrogant spirit, yea, their hard and impentinent heart can be but treasuring up unto themselves "wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God." Rom. 2:5.
"For the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose his blood, and shall no more cover her slain." Without further reference to the first clauses of this verse, we would notice the last clause. When the revelation of the wrath of God is of such a nature that a proper burial is prevented as the wreck of the Titanic, as in the floods of Dayton, we have a condition described in the declaration the earth "shall no more cover her slain."
But the Lord will ever provide for the salvation, preservation, and protection of His people who trust in Him. No matter how fearful the storm; how terrible the tempest how devastating the plague, the flames or the floods, we have the Divine assurance, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Isaiah 43:2. "Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Psalms 46:2,3. Therefore, "Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." For, "The Lord knoweth the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever." Psalms 37:1,2,7,18.
Elder W.M. Smoot
Signs of the Times
Volume 150, No. 10 - October 1982