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1896 the number of passengers carried on the railroads in the United States was 535,120,756 and the mileage was 13,054,840,243, and in the whole world the railroad passengers were 2,384,000,000 and the mileage 28,677,000,000. Add to this the travel by steamers and private conveyance, the explorations into every conceivable corner of the earth, from the equator to the poles, and the enormous aggregate is surely a literal fulfilment of this sign of the end.
And knowledge shall be increased.
The unprecedented educational facilities are a remarkable feature of our time. We have public schools for our youth, colleges and universities for higher education, and denominational schools for religious education.
The public press, with its ceaseless streams of news and information, covers the earth with its ever increasing circulation, like falling leaves from some mighty tree of knowledge. And, of the making of many books, there is truly no end.
The means of communication by the mail, telegraph and telephone have been multiplied in geometrical progression.
By the Universal Postal Union, printed matter is carried as cheaply to Iceland or China as to the next street in Chicago.
But perhaps the prediction of our text refers more especially to the increase of Bible study, and here again we have a wonderful fulfilment. Since the year 1804 over 230,000,000 of Bibles, Testaments, and portions have been distributed by the Bible Societies alone, and millions more by private publication agencies. The Bible has been translated into over 287 languages, and parts into 340. Over nine-tenths of the race have the Bible to read in their own language.
Religious papers and periodicals are issued by the million. The great system of universal Sunday-school lessons, the Bible Institutes, the Chautauqua Summer Schools and Bible Conferences have developed a world-wide study of the Word of God.
With this there has come a wide-spread study of the Prophetic Word, especially concerning Israel and our
Lord's return. While the skeptic and destructive critic are studying about the Word, trying to undermine and tear it down, the reverent students by the thousand are looking into the sure Word of Prophecy as to a light that shineth in a dark place.
II. Perilous Times.
“This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come.” 2 Tim. 3:1. Perilous times.
a. Physically: Pestilence, famine, earthquakes, cyclones, etc,
Possibly the recently vented oil and gases of the earth are a preparation for some mighty conflagration to be aided by newly manifested heat and electrical forces from the sun.2
b. Politically and Socially.
Under this head we need only refer to the progress of Nihilism, Socialism, Communism and Anarchy. Could there be anything worse than the creed of the latter, viz.: The first lie is God and the second is Law. They openly avow that their mission is to destroy the present social structure, and they prophesy (perhaps with the accuracy of Caiphas), that something better will come.
Distress of Nations. National jealousies have caused offensive and defensive preparations on a scale of such magnitude as to literally grind out the life of the people with oppressive taxation.
All Europe is practically a soldiers' camp, with 23,000,000 of drilled men ready to fly at each other in a universal war, with weapons so ingenious and deadly as to put all the past record beneath the shadow of comparison.
Governments vie with each other in the suicidal policy of adding corps to corps and ships to ships, piling up their national debts in the fact of absolute bankruptcy.
(2) 2 Thes. 1:8. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Pet. 3:7. But the heavens
that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
It is appalling to contemplate the woe and camage that would follow in the wake of these forces, if once let loose. No wonder the statesmen strain every nerve to defer that day by their struggle to preserve the peace of Europe.
In the very midst of the scene, lawlessness lifts its hydrahead. Capital cringes before the coming revenge of labor. Jas. 5. Men's hearts fail them for fear of the things that be coming on the earth. And well they may, for Satan will combine all these forces in his mighty culminating effort to stamp out the name of God from the earth. He will head them up in his masterpiece, the atheistic Antichrist, who will deny both the Father and the Son.
III. Spiritualism. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” 1 Tim. 4:1.
Modern Spiritualism is by no mere trickery. There is plenty of fraud and deception that requires darkened rooms and suspicious cabinets, but there are also unquestionable mysteries and spirit manifestations, demons that long to possess the bodies of men, wicked spirits which love darkness rather than light.
It is a definite sign of the times.
So also is Christian Science a doctrine of devils, for, like Theosophy, it denies the atonement of Christ, and asserts that every man is his own Savior.
There are said to be more esoteric Buddhists in and about Boston than there are natives in Australia. Christian Science has swept over the country like a prairie fire, and Spiritualism has its myriads of adherents. This surprising prevalence of these three delusions is, like a cloud of darkness, a sign that the end is near.
IV. Apostacy. The day of the Lord (the revelation), shall not come, “except there come a falling away first." 2 Thes. 2:3.
The Laodicean, or the last state of the Church, is one so sickening that the Lord says He will spue it out of His
mouth.3 There is to be a dearth of faith especially in regard to the coming of the Lord. “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man cometh shall He find the faith on the earth'?” Luke 18:8.
An aged minister once said that he did not believe the Lord was coming for 60,000 years. I concluded that he could not be watching for it.
Post-Millennialists say very little about the coming of the Lord. An elderly Methodist clergyman in Florida, said that he had never heard only five sermons on the Lord's coming, and he preached them all himself. In many large audiences where an expression has been taken it is surprising to see what a great majority have never heard a single sermon on this Blessed Hope, which finds so large a place in the Holy Scriptures.
There is a notable dearth of power in the preaching of the Word to-day! Men descant on how to reach the masses but the masses go on unreached.
Every period of hard times and business depression heretofore, has been followed by a wonderful revival. But not so this last time. Why so few conversions during this last era of hard times? There is evidently one answer. The attacks by Higher Critics upon the inspiration of the Bible have found many adherents in the ranks of the clergy and theological professors who proclaim their doubts that the faith of the masses has been undermined and the great truths of the Bible have no longer that firm hold upon their consciences which has heretofore stimulated the disciples to faithful service, and brought sinners to repentance. With the great Greek church wedded to politics, the Catholic church worshiping Mary in the place of Christ and pronouncing blessing upon those who idolatrously kiss the toe of the image of Agrippina and Nero, *
*In the church of Saint Augustino, in Rome, is a marble statue of a woman and child, which, it is generally claimed represents Agrippina and Nero. This is denied by the Roman Church, but it appears to be evidenced, by the fact
(3) Rev. 3:16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and
neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
and the Protestant churches so largely stiffened with formalism and honeycombed with infidelity, we see the apostacy moving forward with such rapid strides that we again conclude the end is near.
V. World-wide Evangelism. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, then shall the end come.* Mat. 24:14.
We ought just here to explain that while the Church is the present agent for the world's evangelization she may be caught away at any moment. Then the tribulation saints—those who will believe by the very fact of the Church being caught away-may become the agents, for God will always have a witness in the earth. Later it may be converted Israel. Lastly it is to be a heavenly messenger 4
So we are simply to work while the day lasts, watching and waiting because we have no sign nor event that stands between us and the coming of the Lord.
But let us see what has been accomplished.
We have only one exemple or illustration in the Word, and that is Jonah's three days preaching in the streets of Nineveh.
Every nation in the world to-day has a testimony comparatively as great, with the exception of Tibet, Nepaul and Bhotan and the Mohammedan countries of Afghanthat the latter is crushing a bird against his breast, showing the ferocious cruelty of his nature. This image has been consecrated by the highest authorities of the Catholic Church to represent the virgin Mary and the child Jesus. On the pedestal underneath is this inscription in Latin: "Our Lord, the Pope Pius 7th, concedes perpetually 100 days of indulgence, to be used once a day, to all those who devoutly kiss the foot of this holy image, reciting one Ave Maria for the needs of the Holy Church. June 7, 1822.” (4) Rev. 14:6. And I saw
that dwell on the earth, and to another angel fly in the midst every nation, and kindred, and of heaven having the
tongue, and people. ing gospel to preach unto them