Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass…
The subject of our inquiry to-day will be — "What practical effect ought the doctrine of the Lord's second coming to have on you and me, living when and where and as we do?" On the certainty of that coming, I need, I suppose, say very little. On the manner of that coming, we possibly may not be agreed; the time of it is expressly and purposely concealed from us. Two things, therefore, seem to me to have a right, as elements, to influence our practice in this matter; the absolute certainty that the day will come, and the absolute uncertainty when it will come. In fact, in both these respects we are in much the same situation as we are, when in health and strength and the prime of life, with regard to the day of our death. We know that it must be; but no sign appears of its immediate approach. And from this example, so common and so well understood, we may perhaps be able easily to deduce our duty in the other case. The wise course with regard to the inevitable day of one's death appears to be this: never to lose sight of the certainty of it, but to keep ourselves ever ready, while at the same time we do not morbidly brood over the fact, nor allow it to interrupt our duties in life. And here, as in that other case, we must avoid a diseased and restless state of anticipation, as well as the opposite extreme of entire forgetfulness. But perhaps it may be said, In laying down rules for the one consideration, that of our own deaths, are we not also including the other, the expectation of the coming of the Lord? Certainly, in some particulars the two great events coincide; but by no means in all. And it may be profitable for a few moments to ask ourselves wherein they are identical, and wherein each has its region peculiar to itself. They coincide in that each event, as far as we are concerned, will put a limit to this our present state of existence; but they differ, in that the one will do this for ourselves alone; the other, for all mankind. And this is a strictly practical consideration; for I suppose few of us are so selfish as to confine our anticipations and provisions to ourselves alone, but we all extend them over those who are to come after us. The certainty, then, of the day of the Lord will influence those provisions, if we look on it as bringing the limit of this state of time; we shall be rather anxious to do present good with our substance, making moderate provision for our successors, than to lay the foundations of great possessions, and starve our charities to do so. Again, they differ, in that the one brings to ourselves alone the final state; the other completes the great scheme of redemption. The number of God's elect will be accomplished, and His glorious kingdom will have come. And such a consideration, while it may not have much distinctive influence upon our individual Christian lives, ought to have much upon our regard of our relative duties, and our efforts for spreading Christ's gospel on earth.
Parallel VersesKJV: Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.