Have we decided to make our dwelling-place upon the earth? Are we not strangers and pilgrims seeking a better country, even a heavenly? “Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
The coming of Christ will be as it were at midnight, when all are sleeping. It will be well for every one to have his accounts all straightened up before sunset. All his works should be right, all his dealings just, between himself and his fellow-men. All dishonesty, all sinful practices should be put far away. The oil of grace should be in our vessels with our lamps. There will be some at that late day who will have the appearance of being Christians, but their identity with Christ is only a deception. Sad indeed will be the condition of the soul who has had a form of godliness but has denied the power thereof; who has called Christ, Lord, Lord, and yet who has not his image and superscription. The foolish virgins flattered themselves that they would have mercy, that they would obtain an entrance into the marriage feast; but the Master answered their plea for admission with a stern refusal, saying, “I know you not.” “And the door was shut.”
The question is asked, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
God graciously grants a day of probation, a time of test and trial. He gives the invitation: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” If this invitation is disregarded, if the solemn scenes of the judgment make no impression upon the obdurate heart, if there is no repentance and confession and reformation, then the consequence will surely follow that fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrite.
Today the voice of mercy is calling, and Jesus is drawing men by the cords of his love; but the day will come when Jesus will put on the garments of vengeance, and those who have no oil in their vessels with their lamps, will be surprised and confounded in their destitution. The wickedness of the world is increasing every day, and when a certain line is reached, the register will be closed, and the account settled. There will be no more a sacrifice for sin. The Lord cometh. Long has mercy extended a hand of love, of patience and forbearance, toward a guilty world. The invitation has been given, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” But men have presumed upon his mercy and refused his grace.
Why has the Lord so long delayed his coming? The whole host of heaven is waiting to fulfil the last work for this lost world, and yet the work waits. It is because the few who profess to have the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, have not become burning and shining lights in the world. It is because missionaries are few. Many voices are saying, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” Have we no incentive to work? Does not death enter the doors of your neighbors and friends, telling you that your probation is fast hastening to its close? You are not sure of a day, therefore see to it that the oil of grace is not emptied out of your vessel. Let no one feel, “My mountain standeth sure. I am an old, experienced Christian.” Suppose that mortal sickness should come upon you in a moment, could you face eternal realities, and say, “It is well with my soul”?
In the judgment it will be revealed that those who slept and had not the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, who have gone on in careless indifference, in a self-satisfied state, in negligence of spiritual opportunities and privileges, have led others in the selfsame path, and have caused those whom they had no power to redeem, to imperil their eternal destiny at the cost of the soul’s salvation.
Every week counts one week less, every day one day nearer to the appointed time of the judgment. Alas that so many have only a spasmodic religion,–a religion dependent upon feeling and governed by emotion. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Then see that you have the oil of grace in your hearts. The possession of this will make every difference with you in the judgment. Those who say, Lord, Lord, and outwardly appear to rejoice in the Saviour, while they do not the works of Christ, are not what they appear to be, and unless they are truly converted, will be numbered with the foolish virgins. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” The Lord will not save men in disobedience. His perfection of character binds him to deal justly, and the penalty will certainly fall upon all who are found guilty of the transgression of the law in thought, word, or action.
– The Review and Herald, March 27, 1894