In these latter days of the Gentiles, when we are hoping that any day now we may receive the welcome summons to meet our Lord either by angelic visitor, or any other means He may in His wisdom adopt; when therefore we are, as it were, waiting to be ushered into the presence of the Son of God, first as our Judge; and then, if acceptable to him, and found worthy of his friendship, to be chosen as constituents of his Bride elect; it is fitting that we should be busy preparing for such a glorious change in our experience and surroundings.
We know that much preparation is bestowed beforehand, by a natural bride upon her trousseau, and shall we be less diligent in our endeavour to be found pleasing in the eyes of the Heavenly Bridegroom? There never was such a marriage ceremony and feast as that to which we are called. There never was such a glorious and exalted Bridegroom as the Lord of Glory, who invites us to be His; and there never was so glorious and beautiful a Bride as the Lamb’s wife will be, when perfected, and in joyous muster she surrounds her Lord and Master on Mount Zion in the day of His installation there, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The Bride (consisting of the faithful of all ages) has, since her Lord and Master left the earth 1800 years ago, had a weary time of it; for the most part, witnessing for him in sackcloth and sorrow. Unable to share the pleasures which a lax and corrupt church has always been able to provide for its votaries, she has, by her faithful witness to the truth, and protest against departure from it in doctrine and practice, had just the experience which was shown beforehand would result from her faithfulness and devotion, and which doubtless endears her to her absent Lord, who knows all her conflicts, difficulties and dangers: for it is no other than He who is ruling the situation, and shaping all things for the elect’s sake.
Since the revival of the truth in our day, we have come to realize that we are living in the time when the power of the Papacy to afflict and put to death the saints of the Most High has passed away, and that we are (though still prevailed against until the Ancient of Days comes) at liberty to live for Christ, and to profess the truth, without fear of losing life and liberty. How, then, can we best use these few remaining years. How most successfully adorn ourselves, according to the pattern given us by the Spirit, that we may become in the estimation of Christ 'all glorious within"? Mental affinity is essential to true fellowship and companionship. He will make us physically like himself when he comes, if meantime we become mentally conformed to his image. He wishes even now to have joy in us, and that our joy in him should be full. We can only attain to this greatly to be desired condition of mutual love by allowing his word to dwell richly in us, and by doing those things that are pleasing in his sight. He knows that we have need of him to help us in this, and that we cannot do without him, and in his love and wisdom he expressly contrives for us the necessary pruning process, sometimes very grievous, that will bring us into perfect accord and harmony with himself, leading us ultimately to realize that "all our well-springs are in him."
In our day, when women of all ranks are coming to the front, and lending their influence in every department of social life; not only by personal prestige in home life, but on the public platform and in the Press, are moulding society and seeking to inspire women with a desire for self culture, and higher attainments in mental development; it is gratifying to note that among women professing godliness, who are of the household of faith, there is also a stirring up spirit abroad -- a spirit of enterprising desire to do something for themselves, among themselves. Surely we do well to take advantage of opportunities for stirring up ourselves and each other in regard to the things of the truth, that we may increase in knowledge, and reach up to loftier heights in understanding. This is a most desirable object at which to aim in view of the high destiny to which we are called; and the shortness of the time at our disposal ought to stimulate us to every possible endeavour for its achievement. We all feel the need of help in the struggle to give the things of the Spirit the prominence they ought to have in our everyday life. The Apostle Paul would not have been so disappointed with those first-century saints, to whom he wrote the "Epistle to the Hebrews," if they had been more earnestly seeking to grow in spiritual wisdom, and Christ will not find pleasure in us if we are ignorant of the things which he has given us to study, seeing that in our day we have peace and liberty which we ought to take advantage of. It is well, and most essential to read alone. We drink deeper into the spirit of the word by being withdrawn for a time from every distracting element. But we also require society, and the opportunity for reciprocating thought. We are benefitted and stimulated both to thought and action by personal intercourse. Sisters have undoubtedly to make sacrifices in order to find time for reading and meetings. Some things must give way in order that time to sit at Christ’s feet may be found. He commended Mary for choosing to stay by him and listen to what he had to say, instead of joining Martha to be "cumbered about much serving," and "the cares of this life." We can all take a hint here, and must admit that Christ will be well pleased to observe in us a preference for divine things, when it comes to be a question whether a certain hour shall be spent in connection with them or in attending to matters of mere passing moment. Every duty pertaining to the present life has its right and legitimate place; but as Paul said in another connection, "all things are lawful: but all things are not expedient." Some things we can dispense with, and get on quite well without; but to deny ourselves the opportunity of spiritual help and advancement that we may bestow a little more attention to the things of the flesh, is not wise, and is making what in other circumstances would be lawful unlawful. If anything in this direction could be considered legitimate, surely it would have been Martha’s apparently laudable desire to emphasize her appreciation of Christ by an extra display of service on his behalf. We have his verdict, and we dare not, like some, try to explain it away. The safest way is to busy ourselves in directions where we are on sure ground. The various forms of meetings which are springing up among the sisters afford a very good and effective method of giving expression to the awakening desire for knowledge. It is most profitable to come together for an hour or so, on the basis of the truth. The "Reading" Meeting, at which some book is read aloud, with comments at intervals, is a most admirable method. The great desideratum at this kind of meeting being to keep strictly to the subject in hand, and on no account to allow the conversation to drift into irrelevant and unprofitable channels. Then there is the "Sewing" meeting, at which garments are made for the poor, and someone reads while the others sew. A good deal of work can be done in the course of a year by this method, and instruction gained at the same time. There is yet another form of meeting (held monthly), at which addresses, either written or extempore, are given on subjects chosen beforehand. This seems a highly advanced form of Sister’s meeting. A certain number of sisters act in turn as President, opening the meeting with prayer, and giving the first address, after which the meeting is thrown open for others to follow. There is abundant scope in a meeting of this kind for sisters to acquire facility in speech, and it will afford them an excellent opportunity for giving others the benefit of their own private studies. Paul included the gift of utterance among those to be desired, and if rightly used, it is a most desirable one. All these varieties of meetings will be serviceable in furnishing themes for conversation. Young sisters will find them helpful in their desire and endeavour to rise above the ordinarily empty talk of young people, and to get on to the higher and more sensible plane of sober and intelligent speech. In addition to other writings on the truth, I would strongly recommend the reading of Eureka, both in private and in the Sister’s Reading Meetings. Some have already read it. To them I would say "read it again." It is a book that stands, and really needs, reading many times. The size of the book, doubtless, hinders some from commencing it. I would suggest, as a beginning, the reading of one or two sections on any subjects that may seem attractive on looking through the Index. This will almost invariably result in a desire to read more; for it is a much more interesting and readable book than those think who have not read it. The reading of a Section picked out here and there, is a very good and ready way of filling in a profitable evening at any time, when a few brethren and sisters are spending an evening together; and making its acquaintance in this way generally leads to the desire to read Eureka right through.5 At the present interesting stage of the drying-up of the Turkish Power, and the consequent nearness of the Lord’s return, there are many Sections deeply and thrillingly interesting. "The Outpouring of Wrath upon Euphrates, " vol. 3., page 532 is one of them. "The Gathering unto Armageddon, ” page 594, is another. In this Section, at the top of page 597, Dr. Thomas, writing in 1868, forecasts the very arrangement now in progress, namely, a convention between the Great Powers for advancing a step towards a peaceful solution of the Eastern Question, which he there says would “give population, security and prosperity to the tenth of the land, previous to the invasion by Gog.” “The Thief-like Advent” (page 581), and “Blessed He that watcheth” (page 590), have for us, more than ever, a special word of warning, and a hint from Christ himself when to expect him. We cannot read such writing without feeling that we are on the very eve of great changes, and having our constant desire to be found ready proportionately quickened. Sisters have many difficulties to cope with. As a rule they have less leisure than brethren, and their duties are often conflicting and petty, yet pressing in their nature. Indeed, in many cases, a sister requires to be nothing less than a heroine to accomplish all that devolves upon her as wife and mother. Doubtless, when we get through, if we are permitted the great joy of being accepted, we shall find that sisters—true sisters of the Lord Jesus, have had just as difficult a fight of faith as brethren have had; and that though their sphere may have been more obscure and limited, there has been just the same need for the practice of faith and courage, and hope and love in the one case as in the other.
Whatever our position in this life may be, it is evident from the Scriptures that the humblest may attain to the honour of a place in the Kingdom of God, and that without humility the rich and great cannot enter there. Faithfulness in the little that may be entrusted to us now will secure for us the royal welcome; “Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Dear Sisters, do we realize what this royal welcome means for us? We know that if we suffer with Christ we shall also reign with him. Let us realize that the reigning will be as real as the suffering. When the kingdoms of this world have become “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,” who will he appoint to the places of honour now occupied by the royal and aristocratic ladies who shine in the firmament of the Gentile Heavens? Will it not be the sisterly element of the multitudinous Bride? Woman was created to be a fitting companion to man, and in the age to come she will perfectly fulfil the original design of her Creator. Here will be the development of a “New Woman,” never dreamt of by the modern advocates of “woman’s rights.” When thus raised up together, and made to sit together with Christ in these heavenly places, as an element of the New Heavens, their healing and benign influence will descend in blessing upon the newly-constituted earth.
There will be many functions pertaining to the rulership of the new constitution of the Kingdom of God requiring not only judicial and administrative, but also social arrangements, and in all of these, sisters as well as brethren will doubtless be qualified to take an active and efficient part. They may even accompany the brethren in their campaigns against the kings of the earth, like Deborah, who accompanied Barak, not to fight, but as companion and counsellor. If they remain at home in their palaces, to welcome the invincible heroes, and to entertain them on their return from executing “the judgments written” it will be to rejoice with them as they recount the wondrous power of Yahweh, and the victories of His hand upon the enemy. Christ said to his disciples that they should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom. Imagine the honour of their possibly entertaining him!
Dear Sisters, if we but endure to the end, there lies before us unspeakable joy, and if now for a season, if need be, we are in heaviness, through manifold trials, let us remember the glorious future, which is drawing nigh, and wait for the coming Bridegroom, with lamps trimmed, and lights burning.
Affectionately your sister in Christ, waiting for him,