1 Pet. 4:7.---' But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.'

This is a text which, like many others in the New Testament, is laden with the sense of crisis. An hour is upon us---so it seems to say---which may well solemnize and sober us: an hour to make men nobly serious; a time not for dalliance or light-hearted folly, but for earnest thought and prayer. And this, because 'the end of all things is at hand.'

What did the apostle mean? Did he share the belief, held by some of the early Christians, that the world was destined before long to come to a sudden end, to perish in some great catastrophe? If so, he plainly, in that matter misunderstood the teaching of his master and failed to grasp the width and wonder of the purpose of God. It may be that he is only expressing in a vivid way his presentiment that great changes are afoot, that the order of things with which he and his fellow-Christians are familiar is passing away, that they have been called, therefore, to witness for God in a great and fateful time. Living in a day of destiny, witnessing the passing of an age and the birth-hour of a new epoch, they are called to conduct corresponding to the quality of the crisis and calculated to be helpful in all the best ways to be the fulfillment of the Divine plan and purpose for the children of men.

This may be all that St. peter means. If he meant more, he certainly failed to take a sufficiently long view. If he allowed himself to anticipate an imminent end of the world he must have forgotten a few things, and among them this, that his Master had issued a warning against that very error and had given a true and far more helpful and inspiring reading of the troubles and disturbances of the terrible time which He also felt was most surely and swiftly coming. 'Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for the end is not yet.' 'The gospel must first be preached to all nations.' 'These things are the beginning of travail.' That was what the Master Himself said about it. 'The beginning of travail.' The happenings were not the convulsions of a dying world, but the birth-pangs of a new era, the ushering in of a new order of things.

It was when Christ explained this to the disciples of that earlier day in their time of trial, when He declared that they were witnessing not an end, but a great new beginning, that He added, 'But take heed to yourselves.' It was the one thing to say; and we men and women of today have great need to take heed to ourselves. If we are called to take a hand in the making of a new time, then right thought and right conduct become a matter of infinite moment. For new epochs are not made mechanically or from without, but in the souls of men and women of the generation that ushers them in. And whether the thought and purpose of God are to be realized in any generation will depend on whether the men and women of that generation are ready to grasp these thoughts and purposes and to put heart and mind and will at the disposal of the spirit of God for their realization. That is why these early Christians had need, why we have need, to be serious and to be sober and watch unto prayer.

Let us also accept the invitation to watch. To watch as the sentry does against surprise and sudden danger, lest the enemy of the souls of men take us unawares. Watch, for the new day is at the door. Be alert and expectant, for a great age of the Son of Man draws nigh. And let the watch be unto prayer, not resting in the human only, but calling in the divine: blending our wills with the living Will that is energizing at the heart of the Universe and seeking to find entrance into, and a channel of expression through, our yielded minds and hearts.

With fine insight one of our great captains of industry said that "there are problems in the spiritual and social world which are like some of our metals: altogether refractory to low temperatures. They will only melt with great heat and there is no other possibility of melting them." They will not yield merely to "the coldness of intellectual power, although intellectual power may be a tool, an instrument in the hands of the spiritual life." From this William Denny drew the conclusion that past failures, instead of discouraging us, should draw us to the feet of God. They should indeed, and also teach us to take with us there, not only individual cares and anxieties, but also the great problems and political issues on which so much of the happiness of the world depends. These big things must cease to be the sport of professional politicians and diplomatists. They must be the living concern of all of us. Christian people have a citizenship on earth as well as in heaven, and there is need to call in by faith and prayer help from that higher world. We need the high temperature for the refractory metals. And without prayer---earnest, believing, importunate prayer---the temperature will not come.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha