General Conference Bulletin, vol. 5

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THE TIME AND THE WORK

W. W. Prescott

Friday Evening, March 27, 1903, at 7:30.

“One calleth unto me, ... Watchman, what hour of the night?” “Watchman, what hour of the night?” “And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven, ... and he saith with a great voice. Fear God and give Him glory; for the hour of His judgment is come.” “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.6

Our present position in prophetic history, and call to this people to finish in this generation the work of preparing the way for the coming King,- this is our theme. When the voice sounds to the watchman. “Watchman, what hour of the night?” it is time for him to take up the words for this hour, and say. “The hour of His judgment is come.” And every teaching of God’s truth, and every plan for the advancement of His work, every thought entertained concerning our relationship to His work at this time should be inspired by that one thought, The hour of His judgment is come; and the next event for which we may look is the coming of the King. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.7

In the olden time, the watchmen had neither watch nor clock to mark the passing of the time, and the watchmen upon the walls of a city became accustomed to watching the face of the sky and by observing the rising and the setting of those constellations which come above the horizon and pass below it, and by watching the location of those constellations which always remained above the horizon, the watchmen were able to tell with distinctness the hour of the night; and when one called unto him, and said, “Watchman, what hour of the night?” he could give a distinct answer. It was not by use of the telescope to examine particularly some planet or star, but it was because of the general situation; it was because his eye took a sweep of the whole sky, and, observing all together, he could determine the hour of the night. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.8

It is sometimes valuable for us to study in detail specific portions of prophecy; but I was to invite you to take with me one of those sweeping views that shall note the general fulfillment of prophecy,-the prophecies which give a general view of our present situation. The prophecies may be naturally divided into four classes: Prophecies which deal with definite time; prophecies which deal with national life,-the rise and the fall of kingdoms; prophecies which deal with the condition of the church; and the prophecies which deal with the general conditions in the world. Let us think of these prophecies. We can do little more than just to glance at them. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.9

Prophecies of definite time.-The first prophecy of definite time after the flood was when the Lord spoke these words to Abraham, and said, “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;” and this prophecy, expiring in 1491 B. C., found God’s people in bondage: and with an high hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wondrous working, God brought out His people, so that in “the self-same day” the hosts of the Lord went out of Egypt, and that time prophecy was fulfilled. And when they had passed through the Red Sea by the miraculous working on the part of God, their Leader, they sang that song of Moses on the other shore; and, so far as any definite prophecy was concerned, they were ready to go into the land and possess it. Centuries passed by, and, because of the failure to follow out God’s purpose fully, the time of the promise was still delayed, and the next time prophecy we find spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, when God told His people that He would bring Nebuchadnezzar against them, and that they should serve the King of Babylon seventy years; and down into Babylon they went, according to the prophecy, and for threescore and ten years they were a captive people in Babylon. At the close of that period, B. C. 536, God stirred up the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, and the way was opened for them to return to their land. Those that were so minded came back, and, under the guidance of God and the leadership of the priests, they built again the wall of Jerusalem, and established themselves again in the Holy City; the worship was restored, and God’s people were again in their place with God. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.10

It was during that seventy years of captivity that God gave definite prophetic periods to the prophet Daniel, in these words, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,”-sixty-nine weeks, four hundred and eighty-three days, four hundred and eighty-three years, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, B. C. 457, unto the revelation of the Anointed One, the Messiah, A. D. 27; and at that very time the Messiah was manifested; He was baptized of John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and rested upon Him; the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him because He was anointed to preach the gospel-the prophecy was fulfilled. Seventy weeks are determined upon God’s peculiar people; seventy weeks were cut off in a special manner as devoted to them; seventy weeks, four hundred and ninety years, beginning from the same date, expired in A. D. 34; and then they went everywhere preaching the Word; and they did what they were forbidden before to do,-they preached in all the villages of the Samaritans. The seventy weeks, the four hundred and ninety years, were fulfilled. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.11

In the same way, the time times and dividing of time, the thousand two hundred and threescore days, given to Daniel the prophet, were fulfilled. Dating from time of the supremacy of the Papacy over the kingdoms, marked in A. D. 538 by the uprooting of the last of the three horns which were to be overthrown by this power, the twelve hundred and sixty years bring us to A. D. 1798, the beginning of the end, beginning of the day of preparation. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 3.12

In the same way, the thousand two hundred and ninety years closed with the same period. The two thousand three hundred days, or years, of Daniel’s prophecy, reaching to the time when the sanctuary was to be cleansed, beginning at the same point, 457 B. C., bring us down to A. D. 1844, the last date of prophetic time, the close of the longest prophetic period, the time beyond which no prophecy reaches, and we have reached the end of the definite periods of prophetic time as set forth in the Scripture. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.1

There is one other period mentioned in time prophecy, and that is the five months of the fifth trumpet, and the hour, the day, the month, and the year, or three hundred ninety-one years and fifteen days of the sixth trumpet. Beginning with the 27th day of July, 1299, when Othman, leading his forces, invaded the territory of Nicomedia, and began that final course of attack which resulted in the overthrow of the Eastern Empire of Rome, these two periods reach to Aug. 11, 1840, marked by the loss of the supremacy on the part of that power which is the subject of the prophecy. Aug. 11, 1840, and the tenth day of the seventh month, the 22nd day of October, 1844,—landmarks in Advent history! GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.2

Now all those periods are in the past, and they closed in this generation. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.3

Prophecies that mark national life; that mark the rise and fall of kingdoms.—It was when Daniel was in Babylon that God gave to him the interpretation of that dream which Nebuchadnezzar had and lost, and He set before him the meaning of that image which he saw in the night vision, that image whose form was terrible, and told him that he as king of Babylon was the head of gold: that after him should arise another kingdom inferior to him, and then a third kingdom of brass, that would bear rule over all the earth: then the fourth kingdom, strong as iron.—Babylon. Medo-Persia, Grecia, Rome. The prophet calls attention to the fact that the fourth kingdom would be divided, and then he said: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed. And the kingdom shall not be left to other people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” And in that general sweep of history, the time was covered down through all these periods of prophetic time, down to this generation. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.4

There is something worthy of note in the prophecies of the fifth and the sixth trumpets. While it is true that the first four trumpets mark the downfall of the Western Empire of Rome, it is also true that they mark the setting up of ten kingdoms that remained, and out of these ten kingdoms have come the nations which dominate the history of to-day. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.5

The fifth and the sixth trumpets, it is true, mark the downfall of the Eastern Empire of Rome; but they also mark the setting up of a power which has continued with us until this day,—a power which for generation after generation has held successfully in the same dynasty a sway over that territory embraced in what we speak of as the territory of the King of the North. And while the first four trumpets marked the setting up of those ten kingdoms, it also marked the rise and establishment of that apostasy from genuine Christianity which has been the great enemy of the setting up of the kingdom of God in the earth for these centuries. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.6

And the fifth and the sixth trumpets not only marked the setting up of that political power which has continued with us, but it also marked the establishment of that other apostasy which has remained in the earth until to-day. The apostasy established in the Western Empire of Rome has for its motto. “There is but one God, and the Pope is His prophet:” and the apostasy established in the Eastern Empire has for its motto. “There is but one God, and Mahomet is His prophet.” To meet both of these apostasies from the religion established by Jesus Christ, there must be a preaching of the gospel which says. “There is but one God, and Jesus Christ is His Prophet.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.7

Prophecies which mark the condition of the church and its relation to the world.—Follow those prophecies in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, beginning with that pure church, as established by Christ, soon losing its first love: falling under the “ten days,” or ten years, of persecution: passing into that time of apostasy when the Papacy began to rise, through the persecutions and trial of the Dark Ages; emerging into the light of the Reformation of the sixteenth century; going back into the shadows of the Papacy until our very time and our own generation, when that message goes to the church, that Laodicean message, that they are poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked, and know it not; and that counsel comes with redoubled force: “Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” A church facing a seat upon God’s throne, and yet unprepared, because lukewarm, lacking the preparation, and knowing it not; a church to whom a mighty message must come, awaking them out of sleep, arousing them out of lethargy, and calling upon them to repent; for the kingdom of God is at hand. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.8

Prophecies that deal with the relation of the church to the world.—The six seals come before us, with the white horse, the red horse, the black horse, and the pale horse,—the experiences of the church in its relation to the world,—until we are brought down to the sixth seal, introduced by that earthquake of 1755, and reaching down to the time when the heavens are rolled back as a scroll, and every mountain and island flees out of its place, and the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, call upon them from the face and from the hide of the Lamb; “for the time of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” And at that time there must be a message that shall go forth, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to Him: for the hour of His judgment is come:” and every act of man, every thought and intent of the heart, must be brought out to view and judged in the light of the judgment, in preparing the way for the coming King. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.9

Prophecies that deal with the general condition of the church and the world.—Prophecies which say that “in the last days perilous times shall come:” that say—“the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter days, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 4.10

Prophecies that say, “As it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Prophecies that say, “As it was in the days of Lot, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man,”—the ordinary affairs of life going on, and absorbing the whole attention of the people,—things good in themselves and in their place, getting out of their place, and demanding the whole attention of the people, while the solemn time and solemn hour, according to the prophecies of God’s Word, are not heeded by the people. And in that time there must be a special message that shall go forth, that shall make it evident where in the world’s history we are. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.1

Prophecies that say, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.2

Prophecies that say that in this last generation there shall be those who have professed to be servants of God, professed believers of His truth, who shall begin to say in their hearts, “My Lord delayeth His coming.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.3

Prophecies that say that the rich shall heap up treasures; that the cries of the poor come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.4

Prophecies that speak of oppression. Prophecies that speak of violence in the land. Prophecies that speak of bands banded against bands. All these are prophecies of general conditions, and all one needs to do know where we are in this present prophetic history is to let his eyes sweep from horizon to horizon, and take in the situation. (Congregation. “Amen.”) GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.5

Now, deal brethren and sisters, these are not cunningly devised fables. I have just put this in review before your eyes, not because you do not know it, but that you may be reminded anew, and that we may have before our minds at this hour a complete picture, as it were, of these prophecies, and that it may be impressed anew upon our minds and hearts that this is the last generation! GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.6

One special prophecy which I wish to emphasize is the oath of the angel who stood with hand uplifted, with one foot upon the sea, and one foot upon the earth, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, that “there shall be delay no longer: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound; then is finished the mystery of God, according to the good tidings which He declared to His servants the prophets.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.7

Two years ago, when this General Conference opened its sessions, that message came to us with great distinctness, and with a power witnessed of God, “There shall be delay no longer.” And there was a response to that message; there was a stirring of the hearts; there went forth from that an inspiration which has been with us during these two years; and over and over again, as we rehearsed the prophecies; as we noted the time where we stand, we have said within our hearts, and we have said to the people, “The hour is come; there shall be delay no longer.” And the people’s hearts have been made glad, when they have heard that word; and the people’s hearts have responded to that idea, and there has been a revival of the advent faith, a revival of the advent hope in the hearts of many where the hope was almost dead and where the faith seemed to be flickering. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.8

Now we have compassed another two years, and I invite this Conference to listen to the remainder of that prophecy, and put the two together, and make them one, as the cry of this message: “There shall be delay no longer: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound. THEN IS FINISHED the mystery of God.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.9

And I invite this Conference to face very clearly and very distinctly the issue that presses itself upon us at this time. These prophecies all emphasize to us that this is the last generation; but how long shall this generation continue? Shall those who are mere children now take up the cry, and expect to come upon the stage of action, and say, “In this generation;” and their children come on, and say. “in this generation”? Where shall we draw the line that shall mark any sort of a limit to this time? Let us see. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.10

When our Saviour gave His prophecy, in the course of which He used this expression. “This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.” He told them very definitely of the overthrow that was to come upon their nation and their city; and He marked the experiences that were to follow immediately after His crucifixion; and He told them of a turning away; He told them that after they had rejected Him, false messiahs would come in their very day; and then He closed His statement to them concerning the limit of their own national existence, when He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” And the end that was to come then was the end of their national life, the end of their existence as a separate people. The prophecy was definitely fulfilled; the false christ came forward when the true Christ had been rejected. There was a turning aside from the message that had been given; and, on the other hand, there was the complete, definite fulfillment of that prophecy of our Lord, that that very gospel, that very gospel whose basis was a Messiah crucified, risen, ascended into heaven, the High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary,—that definite gospel should be preached in all the world for a witness in that generation in which it was uttered. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.11

That generation in which it was uttered witnessed its fulfillment. Those who lived and were the active leaders at the time when John the Baptist gave his message, turned from it, and raised the cry, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” Their children came upon the stage of action, heard the gospel message of that Messiah, and were given their opportunity to accept or reject it from an intelligent hearing of that gospel message, and then the end came. But the end came before those who were strong in middle life, and who crucified the Messiah, passed off the stage of action. That generation witnessed the fulfillment of that prophecy, and Jerusalem was in ruins. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.12

Now, all that was a true picture, and a typical picture. All that had its definite fulfillment in relation to Jerusalem. It has also its definite fulfillment over again. And this generation is, as it were, the second edition of the first generation. And the prophecy of that generation belongs to the prophecy of this generation. In that time those in active life rejected the message from God, crucified the Messiah, and then their sons and daughters came to middle life, years of responsibility, were given an opportunity to accept or reject the GCB March 30, 1903, p. 5.13

Messiah, the gospel of the kingdom was preached in all the world for a testimony, and that generation saw the end. Just so, in this time. Those who heard the message when it was first preached, calling upon them to fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment was come,—those who were told of the coming of the Lord, near at hand, and who treated the message and the messengers just as the people of God anciently treated John the Baptist and his message, and who just as really crucified the message in that time, in the same spirit also as did the professed people of God in that first generation crucify the Messiah and reject the message,—their children have lived to come upon the stage of action as the responsible workers in this day, and they are given the opportunity to hear this threefold message, and to decide intelligently whether they will accept it or whether they will crucify it. But before that generation shall pass off the stage of action, which both preached and heard that first preaching of the message, before that generation passes off the stage of action, the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of the judgment hour, the gospel of the soon-coming of the Son of man, will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and the end will come. GCB March 30, 1903, p. 6.1

Now, see where we stand. I appeal to these men with gray hairs, who have known this message from its beginning, and who are becoming few among us, who at times, perhaps, have almost wavered in their hope that they should see the end of this work. I ask. How much longer can we of middle life so conduct this work as to delay, and delay, and delay, and yet bring the end in this generation? I ask you to face it, not as a theory to teach, but as a fact which you and I ought to face this very first meeting of this Conference. And I want every one to examine himself, whether he is in the faith. And to know whether he has, at this hour, that courage which is born of a faith in God’s divine Word, in prophecies fulfilled for all these centuries, who will be willing to take his stand anew upon this definite platform, that this generation shall see the end? I say we do not face any theory about this matter. I say it is a terrible, in one sense a terrible, situation that faces us. And I ask you to face it. I ask you to look at the facts of the prophecies: I ask you to look at the whole situation, set forth in God’s Word; then I ask you to reckon up with me, that for ten, and twenty, and thirty, and forty, and fifty, and sixty years, and more, this work has been going on, and where do we stand in this generation? Every one who faces that truth, with confidence in God’s Word, has got to say to himself, “It is the last hour.” GCB March 30, 1903, p. 6.2