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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    L. T. NICOLA


    IN harmony with prophetic utterances, Seventh-day Adventists have felt justified in looking for some well-defined developments in the affairs of nations, which would distinctly mark the closing record of the world’s history. In determining just what these ought to be, however, great caution is necessary in order that our minds may not be controlled by false impressions, so that we would be led to adopt wrong conclusions, and worldly cares and associations would hold our attention so closely that we would lose sight of the evident tokens of the final scenes.GCB October 1, 1896, page 760.1

    A brief study of the situation cannot fail to reveal startling developments in the last few years. For considerable time very little took place in the Eastern nations calculated to call attention to any prophetic fulfillment in what is known as the Eastern Question. But how suddenly the aspect changed. Once it was thought that Russia’s desire alone to annex Turkish territory would drive the Turk from Europe. But now we see another element coming in to hasten the final result. The late Turkish atrocities, by which thousands of Armenians were murdered in and around Constantinople have so enlisted the sympathies of other nations in behalf of the oppressed, that the question has been seriously discussed in national councils how best to deprive the sultan of his despotic power. More recent developments of Moslem cruelty toward the inhabitants of Crete, not of the Mohammedan faith, have stirred all countries to the verge of avenging the wrongs of a defenseless people.GCB October 1, 1896, page 760.2

    The situation in that quarter is now much like a victim being watched by beasts of prey, bent on the destruction of the one under surveillance. Growing more certain of securing their prey, they crouch lower, and glide along under the cover of this and that, stopping occasionally to listen, or cautiously to peer about, as if to be assured that their movements are unobserved, when suddenly, in a body, they pounce upon their victim, which vainly struggles to its death.GCB October 1, 1896, page 760.3

    This illustrates the attitude of several of the nations toward Turkey. The horrors of the past two years are forcing them into concert of action of some sort, to protect the victims of Moslem ferocity. The initial dose, soon to be administered, may not complete the cause of the hated foe; it may only stay for a time the final issue, by temporarily turning the tide of sentiment which calls for the partition of the Turkish Empire; it cannot restore health and vigor to that system. The end of the “sick man” has been hastening apace; and when the nations become assured that the thing can safely be done, we may depend that the career of that power will be cut short.GCB October 1, 1896, page 760.4

    But why do the nations hesitate? There is nothing in the prophecy to forbid the immediate removal of the Turk from Europe, so that he may “plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas,” and there come to his end, with none to “help him.” In fact, so far as one can see, the condition is just right for it to happen. Only one thing prevents it. God’s people are not yet sealed, and he himself in mercy holds the winds of strife, that his work may be carried forward without hindrance. Pleas read Revelation 7:1-3. The work of warning the world which ought to have been already accomplished, lingers; not because the truth is powerless, but because those to whom the work has been entrusted, have not appreciated their responsibility enough vigorously to engage in the work assigned them of God. Had the people in general been ready to co-operate with God, as he has asked for years, the prophecy relating to the Turkish power would doubtless ere this have been fulfilled, and the people of God eternally blessed.GCB October 1, 1896, page 760.5

    Turning our eyes toward our own country, we see little else but unrest and uncertainty. The great question of labor and capital has rent into factions nearly every community. The frequent labor strikes have paralyzed industries, and snatched employment from the needy. Political combinations have begotten distrust in manufacturing and commercial circles, compelling capitalists to hoard their money, through fear of losing it if invested. In short, man has lost faith in his fellow man, and each seeks to advantage himself at the expense of others, until fraud and oppression stalk on every hand, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.”GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.1

    But all these signs are to indicate that the world is entering the throes of dissolution. Let us read what the infallible word has said on this point: “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” James 5:1-4.GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.2

    This is the question of capital and labor as settled by the decree of God. All the stipulations there set forth are met in the condition of society as it is to-day. When this condition of things appears, the word exhorts the brethren to be patient; to stablish the heart, “for the coming of the Lord draweth night.” This, then, is a description of the state society will be in when the Lord is about to appear; and since that which answers to the description already abounds, is it not time that every believer’s heart be established in the expectation of the soon-coming Saviour?GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.3

    Let no one be deceived in the matter. The Saviour has plainly told us that “when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:25-28. The question may again be raised: What hinders the immediate breaking up of society and the dissolution of all things earthly? — Nothing but the merciful waiting of an ever-merciful Father toward his wandering children. Think of these things, brethren and sisters, decide now that you will from this time forth be wholly the Lord’s, to be used by him and for him in his work.GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.4

    Another thing should be spoken of in this connection, not only as a caution in our future service, but as an additional evidence that we are now on the very verge of the eternal world. The nearer one approaches to any desired haven, difficulties are likely to increase, rendering it necessary constantly to be on the alert. So when the heavenly goal appears in sight, Satan makes greater efforts to divert our attention from it, that he may more successfully ensnare our feet. After the children of Israel had passed the Jordan, and had, in fact, entered the very borders of the promised land, they encountered some of their fiercest conflicts.GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.5

    But lest discouragement should seize the people at the very time when victory was within their grasp, the Lord spoke to them through Joshua, charging them to “be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. So long as the people would permit him, the Lord made this promise good. When the overthrow of Jericho was determined, the Lord’s power was signally shown in the leveling of the walls of the city, so that this their first victory after entering the land, cost the people no effort but for every one to do exactly as the Lord instructed him.GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.6

    Their next effort, however, was destined to be a most humiliating defeat. But they had only themselves to blame. They did not give God the glory for the wondrous victory at jericho, but were lifted up in self-sufficiency instead. Covetousness and pride controlled some, so that they counted the possession of a little paltry gold and silver more than to possess the blessing of God. They were more pleased with a stylish “mantle of Shinar,” than with the glory of the garment of righteousness.GCB October 1, 1896, page 761.7

    Coming to Ai, a place of much less importance, seemingly, than Jericho, the people were not inclined to believe its conquest a matter of any great moment. Had not Jericho submitted easily to them! What need of all the people’s going against such a place? A few valiant warriors can easily take it. Send up two or three thousand only, while the others rest on their laurels. Joshua 7:3. In the overweening self-confidence of that people, God was left out of their plans. Not that they really intended this; for, without doubt, they still remembered his promise to be with them wherever they went. But this is ever the nature and outcome of self-confidence in every age. When self feels strong, it plans without God; then he withdraws to let self work alone. In the extreme weakness of humanity, defeat and humiliation are always to be found. It is only by letting man work by himself, that he can be led to understand and deplore his weakness. With this revealed, he returns to God, who in turn takes hold of man and makes him strong, despite his inherent weakness. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12. “When I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.1

    This was destined to be the experience of Israel. When three thousand men went up before Ai, the people of that city drove them in terror back to their encampment, dealing destruction to their number all along the way. The humiliation of this defeat, and the fear of the enemy that seized upon the people because of it, caused Joshua to fall on his face and plead with God not to leave his people to the wrath of their enemies. The Lord replied by saying that there was something to be done before he could render them any help. He told Joshua to get up, for Israel had sinned and had violated his covenant with them; that the people had taken of the “accursed thing,” and his prayers availed nothing so long as such wickedness was among the people. The Lord told him, in a word, to put away the “accursed thing.” or Israel would never be able to stand before its enemies. Verses 10-13.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.2

    Then came searching of heart and camp, and the revelation of that search was such that repentance, deep and strong, took hold of the camp as of one man. Then the “accursed thing” was removed. Not only were the gold and silver and the Babylonish garment taken away, but their self-sufficiency, so satisfying before, but now so detestable, was for the time banished from the camp.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.3

    Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land.” Joshua 8:1. When this divine direction was carried out, Ai was easily taken. God was as well able to have conquered Ai without human co-operation, as he was to cause the walls of Jericho to fall at the blast of the priests’ trumpets. But the lessons for that people to learn, as well as those of to-day, was, that no matter how great the number of the people, or how small the work to be accomplished, God wanted them to understand that he could not sanction one’s excusing himself from doing his part.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.4

    We are told by the apostle that all the things which happened to Israel in their journeying to the promised land, were for ensamples or types, and “are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. Let us briefly follow the type to its antitype: Theirs was an entrance into a temporal CAnaan, an earthly rest; ours is to be an eternal inheritance, a heavenly rest. Through unbelief, that people wandered forty years in the wilderness, when they might have taken possession in a few days. During their sojourn in the wilderness, all the murmurers and complainers died, and their places were filled by others. May it not be possible that the close of this work is delayed for a similar purpose? Think of it. Surely, many things years ago pointed to a speedy deliverance of God’s people by the coming of the Lord.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.5

    It may be profitable at this point to take a look backward. Some of us remember how rapidly the final message spread among the nations five years ago, giving promise of the work being “cut short in righteousness.” At that time, too, our own people shared in an outpouring of grace, and rejoiced greatly in their enlarged views of the power of God’s word; the camp-meetings everywhere were marked with most wonderful demonstrations of God’s willingness to lift up and to strengthen his people. Especially was this the case in 1892. At the large gatherings of that season, the most surprising conversions were witnessed; the sick, and lame, and feeble were made to feel the thrill of life-giving impulses, and declared themselves restored to vigor by the power of God; and great rejoicings were felt throughout the wide harvest-field.GCB October 1, 1896, page 762.6

    Another thing was noticeable at that time. In the height of their joy, the people contributed more funds toward spreading the truth, than had ever been given in a single year. More offered themselves for the work of the ministry than ever before. In short, the work prospered everywhere, and everything connected with the cause seemed to indicate the time at hand for which so many had ardently looked - the final outpouring of the Spirit of God in his work. There is still no question in the minds of some, that our people then entered the borders of that glorious state. That was a foretaste of what the Lord would have continued in a larger measure had the people been willing to accept it. Some, indeed, did hail the gift with joy, but many stood aloof, branding these as fanatics; and like the children of Israel when the spies reported themselves on the border of a most goodly land, and produced its wonderful fruit in evidence, they were ready to stone them.GCB October 1, 1896, page 763.1

    The people were not united in the faith that God had begun his last mighty work on earth, and a general relapse followed. Some grew self-confident; many have looked more toward the gold and silver of this world than to the glory of God and of the world to come; others have been more charmed with brilliant garments of earthly texture than with the robe of righteousness. And, sad to say, many have united to criticize and condemn others for what they consider insincerity and inefficiency. The effect of all this is, that when an advance in the work is to be attempted, the people, like their early prototypes, have no interest to personally engage in the effort, and so stand back, seemingly willing that a few shall bear the burdens of the campaign. The outcome of such a course is always the same - the work of God is retarded, and his cause is humiliated in the sight of the people.GCB October 1, 1896, page 763.2

    In this condition of things it is not enough to pass through the formal rounds of singing hymns, and talking about the truth. As in the days of old, wherever the “accursed thing” has come in, it will be necessary to put it away by repentance and contrition of heart. Otherwise, when we ask God for help, we ask him to lend his power to iniquitous work, a thing which he can never do. Until we do this, we cannot expect God to co-operate with us. But think of the responsibility we incur by standing where we delay the Lord’s coming!GCB October 1, 1896, page 763.3

    We may rest assured of one thing, that the very keenness of the trials we meet by the way is a token of the enemy’s hatred, and that he is trying to block our way to the kingdom. The nearer we come to the time of deliverance, it follows that he will work the harder against us, and we may conclude that instead of seeing a place where we can rest by the way, we will be obliged to “push the battle to the gates.” Then let every one of us arise and “go up” to the work, that God may again manifest himself among us as in days past; and the victory we shall gain will be swift and certain. J. O. CORLISS.GCB October 1, 1896, page 763.4

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