Advent Testimony Address
Thursday Afternoon, December 13th, 1917
Address by Rev. F.B. Meyer, D.D. (Presiding)
The meetings of this day are remarkable for many reasons, some of which I will not trouble you with, but two or three are supremely significant. First, we have a meeting of two confluent streams in the channel bed of a united Testimony.
Origin of the Meetings
These gatherings commenced with a little group of the servants of Christ who felt that the time was rife for the utterance of an awakening call to the churches; and after their plans had commenced to assume shape it was discovered that the brethren of the Prophecy Investigation Society, under a similar impression, were moving towards a similar end. Their presence in such large and representative numbers on this platform indicates that though there are wide differences in the interpretation of certain passages of Scripture and in the deductions to be made from them, there is yet a unity of spirit, purpose, and general assent to the basic propositions, which cannot fail to have a profound effect on thinking people.
Object of the Meetings
Secondly, it is to be understood that these meetings are not called primarily for teaching, or exposition, but for witness. We do not feel led to argue for the statements which are made on the authority of Scripture. The fact of their being set down on the sacred page is sufficient warrant for our witness. The herald does not argue nor explain — he bears witness to things which have committed to his care. The time will come when these meetings close, for the further explanation and elucidation, so far as possible, of the facts and truths which we are handling. But at this point the representatives of various aspects of Christian thought, faith, and activity stand together as messengers and heralds of things not seen as yet, but, as we see it, clearly revealed in Scripture as imminent. “These things which we have seen and heard, we declare unto you.”
Thirdly, these meetings, though we had no thought of this when they were planned, exactly synchronize with the Fall, or rather the Liberation of Jerusalem. You will remember our Lord’s words that she would be trodden down by the Gentiles until their times were fulfilled, and that then would come an end to the long-continued sorrows of her children. I need hardly remind you of the precise sequences of Luke 21 v 24-28 — the signs, the perplexity of distress, the shaking of the powers in heaven, and the coming of the Son of Man.
History, Prophecy, and the Testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts bear their three-fold and unmistakable witness to the Testimony which we give here today.
The Apostle in 1 Cor. 10 v 11 states that the ends of the ages had come on the people whom he addresses. In other words, they were living at a joint in time; at a time when one great age, or part of an age, was concluding and another beginning. No words could better describe our own position. In our time also a great era is closing in and another opening. Those who have visited the Arctic Circle in summer have witnessed a sublime natural spectacle. Because the sun dips for only a brief interval the fading glory of the dying day bathes with splendour the clouds of the western sky, whilst the east is flushed with the roseate hues of dawn. Evening and morning greet one another in the same sky. So we watch the fading splendour of the Era or Age, which our Lord called “the Times of the Gentiles,” which for 2,500 years has ruled the world, and we welcome the dawn of the new era in which Jesus Christ will be supreme and his words the foundations of society.
When the Almighty Creator began to prepare our earth to be the home of man He laid the foundations in successive slabs of material which geologists have named Silurian, Triassic, Sandstone, Carboniferous and the like, always preparing for human life on this planet; and, similarly, after man had been introduced as child and tenant, the Eternal began to build Time in a series of slabs, which we call ages or aeons. These are perpetually referred to in Scripture, but the A.V. and R.V. alike have confused the view of the ordinary reader by rendering the Greek word by world instead of by age. In Matt. 28 v 20 our Lord never said the end of the world, but the end of the age. These ages from the Dawn of the Human Era to the Present Hour may be characterised generally thus: the Age of Creation, the Patriarchal Age, the Age of the Hebrew Kingdoms, the Age of Rejection, and the Times of the Gentiles, the Millennial Age, the Age of Judgment, introducing the Eternal Age. Each of the earlier ages is built on the same general plan, and probably this explains the various schools of prophetic interpretation, and gives the reason why the same passages, as, for instance, Matt 24, may be applied with equal truth to more than one epoch in history. Each ends in a crisis of judgment; each is marked towards its close by abounding wickedness; each suffers from some embodiment of Might against Right; and each contains the records of noble souls that counted not their lives dear.
The Manifestation of Our Lord
It is at the junction of these two ages, which are meeting in our time, that we look for the manifestation of our Lord, first to His people, and afterwards (a longer or shorter interval having passed) to the world.
We have no information as to the day or hour, and disassociate ourselves from those who attempt to fix either. At an hour when men think not the Son of Man will come.
We believe that we are to continue our present efforts for Christian unity, for peace, and for the uplift of the downtrodden and oppressed. The Lord, when He comes, will expect His servants to be so doing. He says: Occupy till I come. But we have long been feeling that our protests against wrong need to be reinforced by a dynamic force which we cannot bring into operation, but which we believe will be supplied when the malign forces which now operate on human destinies, and which the Apostle calls “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” are replaced by the presence of Christ and His Church in the heavenly places, and when to wise servants are given cities to control, as they rule them, spiritually and from the Unseen. It is therefore that we raise our voice, asking the Lord speedily to accomplish the number of His elect and to hasten His kingdom. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, and by Thy presence bring the Eternal Day.