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THE WARNING OF
St. MATT. XXIV. 44.
“Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh."
This is the warning-the especial warning of Advent, Not the warning of Advent Sunday only, but of all the Sundays—the whole Season of Advent. Each year as the season comes round, we who are ministers of the Word, and messengers of Christ, take up again the Lord's solemn charge, and address it to our hearers, “ Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh." Yes! this is our message to live as men who wait for their Lord, in one word, to set ourselves to be ready ;
and for this reason; because of the uncertainty of the day and hour of His arrival—the uncertainty, and yet the certainty-for about this there ought to be no doubt, that He will come: but of the day and the hour knoweth no man; all we are told for our warning is that His coming will take the world by surprise, “ At such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.”
And it is this uncertainty as to the exact time that has been turned by some into an excuse for negligence-nay, which has been used as an argument against His coming at all. In all ages, ever since the days of the Apostles and first preachers of the Gospel, there have been scoffers who have mocked at the idea of Christ's return. “Where,” they have asked, “is the promise of His coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep all things do continue as they were.” Because Christ did not at once come back; because His Kingdom did not immediately appear, both those who loved and those who hated Him, both friends and foes, jumped to the conclusion that He would not come at all. That delay, that tarrying of the Lord, need be no stumbling block to us. We know the reason of it we know how St. Peter met the doubts and misgivings of the timid, halfhearted believer, and silenced the mockers of his day-"One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The Lord
is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness: but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance--and he goes on to say, almost in the very words of his Master, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." And so does St. Paul speak in 1 Thessalonians, " 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 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.”
He will come-no one doubts it-" We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.” He will come, and come suddenly~" As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage,” all the usual routine of man's existence went on, "until the day when Noe entered into the ark; and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed."
So far of the suddenness of Christ's Second Coming. It is spoken of in divers passages as an event that will take the world unawares-come when men are not expecting it—when they are immersed