Ready and Waiting
Who is there here that receives the doctrine? Try to realize it more. Alas! how little do we feel it at the very best! Be gentle in argument with those what differ. Remember that a man may be mistaken on this subject and yet be a bright child of God. It is not the slumbering on this subject that ruins souls, but the want of grace. Above all avoid dogmatism and positiveness, and especially about symbolical prophecy. It is a sad truth, but a truth never to be forgotten, that none have injured the doctrine of the second advent so much as over-zealous friends.
3. Learn, thirdly, that whenever Christ does come again it will be a very sudden event. I draw that from the verse in the parable: "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him."
I do not know when Christ will come. I am no prophet, though I love the subject of prophecy. I dislike date-fixing, and I think it has done great harm. I only assert positively that Christ will come again one day in person to set up His kingdom, and that whether the day be near, or whether it be far off, it will take the Church and world exceedingly by surprise.
It will come on men suddenly. It will break on the world all at once. It will not have been talked over, prepared for and looked forward to by everybody. It will awaken men's minds like a cry of fire at midnight. It will startle men's hearts like a trumpet blown by their bedsides in their first sleep. Like Pharaoh and his host, men will know nothing till the very waters are upon them. Before they can recover their breath and know where they are, they shall find that the Lord is come.
I suspect there is a vague notion floating in men's minds that the present order of things will not end quite so suddenly. I suspect men cling to the idea that there will be a kind of Saturday night in he world - a time when all will know the Lord's day is near, a time when all will be able to cleanse their consciences, look up their best garment, shake off their earthly business, and prepare to meet the Lord. If any one here has got such a notion I charge him to give it up for ever. If anything is clear in unfilled prophecy, this one fact seems clear, that the Lord's coming will be sudden, and take men by surprise; and any view of prophecy which destroys the possibility of its being a sudden event, appears to carry about with it a fatal defect.
Everything which is written in Scripture on this point confirms the truth that Christ's second coming will be sudden. "As a snare shall it come on the face of all them that dwell on the earth," says one place: "As a thief in the night," says another; "As the lightning," says a third; "In an hour when no man thinketh," says a fourth; "At a time when they shall be saying Peace and safety," says a fifth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself uses two most striking comparisons when dwelling on this point. He says in one, that as it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days when the Son of man is revealed. Do you remember how it was? In the days when Lot went out of Sodom the men of Sodom were eating and giving in marriage. The sun rose as usual. They thought of nothing but worldly things; they saw no sign of danger. But all at once the fire of God fell upon them and destroyed them.
He says in another place, "As it was in the day of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." Do you remember how it was in the days of Noah? Sty a little, and let me remind you.
When the flood came on the earth there was no appearance beforehand of anything so awful being near. The sun rose and set as usual; the day and night followed each other in regular succession. The grass and trees and crops were growing; the business of the world was going on; and though Noah preached continually and warned men of coming danger, no one believed him.
But at last one day the rain began and did not cease; the waters ran and did not stop. The flood came and the flood swelled; the flood went on and covered one thing after another, and all were drowned who were not in the ark. Everything in which was the breath of life perished.
Now, as the flood took the world by surprise, just so will the coming of the Son of man. It will come on men like a thunderclap. In the midst of the world's business,when everything is going on just as usual, in such an hour as this the Lord Jesus Christ will return.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 15)