By Horatius Bonar
"Thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called." -- Lamentations 1:21
THIS is the voice of faith; sorrowful faith, yet still faith,--faith anticipating the coming day of right and truth. Jerusalem had fallen, her sons had gone into captivity, her walls and gates were in ruins, her streets were red with blood, her enemies were triumphant, and worse than all, her own sins had gone up to the heavens and brought down on her this terrible vengeance. In the midst of all this Jeremiah sits and mourns. All around is dark. There is only one bright spot, and that is in the distant future; the arrival of the day which God had "called" or summoned. For he looks up to God as the righteous Judge, the avenger of the wrongs of Israel as well as the punisher of her sins. He comforts himself by the thought that "God hath appointed (or called, that is, proclaimed) a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness." This is Jeremiah's one hope, the solitary ray of light in the midst of utter gloom.
So is it with us now. We are troubled with the evil that surrounds us. The wicked triumph. The good are few, and their names are cast out as evil. Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse. We are helpless in the midst of all this sin and blasphemy and defiance of God. What, then, is our consolation? That God will bring the day that he has "called;" that man's day and Satan's day shall not last forever, but that God's day is at hand; for he that shall come will come and will not tarry. Having done our utmost to arrest the flood of iniquity, to maintain the cause of God, to lift up a banner for the truth; and feeling that we are wholly impotent against the powers of earth and hell, we call to mind the promise that God has appointed a day for setting all things right, and we fall back on this sure word, comforting ourselves with the thought that the cause is really God's, and not ours, and that He will vindicate it in due time. This enables us to possess our souls in patience.
God, by his prophet Amos (v. 18) speaks of this day, 'and of those who look for it, thus, "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord, to what end is it for you? "As if he would say, Ye know not what ye are doing; why do you desire that day? It is darkness, and not light. And this is, indeed, one awful aspect of the coming day. It is not to be desired, but dreaded. But there is another aspect of it, so that it is a day to be desired, not dreaded. Let us speak of the reasons why a believing man should desire the judgment-day and the judgment-seat, and looking up calmly, should say to God with longing heart, Thou wilt bring the day that Thou hast called; --should respond to words of Christ regarding his arrival, with "Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus."
I. God shall no longer be shut out of His own world. He is now excluded. Jehovah is not the God of this world. Man shuts Him out, and has done so from the first. Depart from us, is the world's all but unanimous voice. In so far as the individual will, or the united will of humanity can do it, God has been shut out. But when the day that God has called shall arrive, God shall interpose. He shall come in and shew Himself. He shall take to Himself His great power and reign. What a world it will be when God shall no longer be shut out! In vain men strive to banish Him. They may do so for a little, but the day of God is coming. He will force open the world's long shut gates, and enter triumphantly.
II. Christ shall no longer be denied and blasphemed. The special enmity of the race has been directed against the Son, the Christ of God; against Him in whom God specially reveals himself. It is Him that men deny and blaspheme. A Christ in some shape they may own, but not the Christ of God. The Christ of Socinus, or Strauss, or Renan, or Colenso, they will tolerate, but at aught beyond this they scoff and gnash their teeth. How often are our souls troubled, and our hearts all but broken, at the sounds of blasphemy, the utterances of hatred against Christ. Then we fall back on the promise regarding the coming day, when Christ shall be exalted and His name honoured! O day to be desired, when thus it shall be! Lord, hasten the day that Thou hast called.
III. Evil shall no longer prevail. God's will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. The world shall be no longer what it now is. Satan shall no more have dominion, as the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air; he shall be dethroned and bound. Antichrist shall no longer have power, but be smitten. Iniquity shall no more overflow. The curse shall pass away, and creation be delivered. The cry of the preacher (Ecclesiastes 1:8) shall no more be heard, all things are full of labour, vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Man shall not put light for darkness, or darkness for light, nor call evil good and good evil. The vile person shall no more be called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. The effects of the fall shall disappear, and all things be made new.
IV. Error shall give place to truth. The first sin was at once an error and a disobedience. Man allowed dark and untrue thoughts of God to come in. Since then error has overflowed the earth like a deluge. It has spread, and ramified, and multiplied. Out of God's book of truth men have (in perverse ways) drawn errors and falsehoods innumerable. Some of the worst untruths have been those professedly deduced from the book of truth. Nay, and men glory in error, provided it be either clever or earnest. They call it speculation, philosophy, free thought. Yet all error is sin. And we find error everywhere; in the world and in the church. God is dishonoured by it. His Son is denied. His book is set aside or misinterpreted. But when man's day is over, and God's day shall come, then error shall depart, and truth shall flourish. False science, vain philosophy, impure literature shall no more be known. True knowledge shall cover earth and fill the souls of men. Truth shall then be prized and exalted when He who is the truth and the true One shall reign. His throne shall be the throne of truth; His crown the crown of truth. His light shall put darkness to flight. Every falsehood and unreality shall disappear. All shall be real and true.
V. The saints of God shall be no more maligned. All along, hatred, contempt, misrepresentation, have been their portion. All manner of evil has been spoken and written concerning them, both in life and after death. They have been treated as the offscouring of all things. But when that day shall come which God has called, this shall be all reversed. Their lives shall be all re-written, and that by a divine hand; no misrepresentation, no falsehood there. The one-sided or malevolent histories that have calumniated them shall vanish. God himself shall proclaim their true character and noble deeds or sacrifices, which the world denied or sneered at. We shall have new and noble volumes of "worthies," of saints and martyrs whose names the world never introduced into its histories. What a day of redressing injuries and righting the wronged shall God's day be! Let us then be patient under the calumnies of evil men. Let ungodly historians vilify our noblest men,--our Reformers, our Covenanters. Let them slander Knox and Calvin,--or Melville and Rutherford,--or Whitefield and the evangelists of his age; the day of redress is coming. The falsehoods will not always lie upon their memories. God himself shall undertake their vindication, to the confusion of their slanderers. What a day for the clearing up of characters, and the placing of events, and words, and deeds in their proper light. Then shall the lie be answered, the accusation confuted before the universe. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Let us then rest in hope. Let us be patient. Let us meekly bear wrongs and reproaches. He that believeth doth not make haste. This is night; but the morning .cometh. Let us rejoice in the prospect of it, and do our work regardless of present censure and reproach, anticipating the "well done" of the great Master and Judge. He standeth before the door.