Obrázky na stránke

the great calamity or judgment they suppose is so soon to come.

There is no subject on which an excitement can be more easily produced than this; and no theory can be advocated, which many will more readily receive, or which they will adopt when it has no greater claims to credence.

Were any theory to be broached, not immediately calculated to alarm the fears, for which no better proofs could be offered than have been advanced in favor of this, it would not be adopted by one in a thousand, who should hear all that could be said in its support.

You all recollect the comet, that appeared a few years since, and which some conjecturer said might possibly hit the earth. Well, even that conjecture, idle and unfounded as it was, filled thousands of breasts with the most anxious fears. Many began to see strange sights and movements in the heavens; and though they did not actually behold the stars fall, the sun turn to blood, and the moon fade, they almost imagined they could feel the earth tremble as it rolled on its axis, and moved on in its orbit.

The comet appeared; we all beheld the strange visiter; it remained its appointed season, and then gradually faded from our sight.

During all this, we felt no shock; the earth remained secure and unharmed. And I doubt not, that it will so remain till 1843 shall have been numbered among the years that were.

With these remarks, which I felt bound in justice to myself and friends to make, I will proceed to examine some of the leading arguments on which the theory in question is built.

"What I have to say, will be offered in seriousness and candor. I shall make no resort to ridi. cule or sarcasm ; for though it is well at times to laugh men out of their errors, I do not conceive this to be one of the times. I shall take it for granted, that all who believe the world is to be destroyed A. D. 1843, are sincere in that belief, and, though mistaken, honest in their mistake.

Besides, the theory comes to us recommended by the appearance of great research, and an extensive acquaintance with the Bible and history, People are not aware, that the author, in his cal. culations, is indebted chiefly to such men as Mede and Newton. He has their theory of explaining the prophecies, though he has varied in many respects from their dates, and their applications of predictions.

In several cases where they suppose they may be right, he is positive. Thus, there is much borrowed research brought to sustain this theory; and, therefore, it will require patient investigation and candid argument in consider

ing it.

This evening, I shall ask your attention to the following question; viz. Do the Scriptures teach a coming of Christ during the lifetime of some who heard him preach ?

This is an important question, and one which affects the main pillar of the theory we are considering. The first proposition in Mr. Miller's Lectures is, that Christ did not come at the destruction of Jerusalem ; did not come while some were living who attended on his ministry. To this point, therefore, I ask your especial attention.

Lest some should think we are the only sect of Christians who say, Christ did come at the de

struction of Jerusalem, allow me to refer you to the opinion of such men as Gill, A. Clarke, Cappe, Pearce, Hammond, Lightfoot, &c. &c. Archbishop Newcome says ; “ The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus is emphatically called the coming of Christ. The spirit of prophecy speaks particularly of this, because the city and temple were then destroyed, and the civil and ecclesiastical state of the Jews subverted. The Jews also suffered very great calamities under Adrian; but not so great as those under Vespasian, and the desolation under Adrian is not so particularly foretold. But I think, that any signal interposition in behalf of his church, or in the destruction of his enemies, may be metaphorically called a coming of Christ.” * Bishop Pearce, speaking on Matt

. xiii. 14, says; “I have explained this and the foregoing verse, as relating not to the end of the world, but to that of the Jewish state, which was to be destroyed within forty years after Jesus' death ; for the same manner of expression is made use of, when it is more certain, that not the time of the general judgment, but that of the visitation of the Jews is meant, viz. in Matt. xvi. 27, 28, where it is said, The Son of man shall comc in the glory of his father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily, I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not iaste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.' This last verse, accomplished in one of the apostles at least, (I mean John,) plainly shows, that all the phrases used, in the first verse were designed to express

* “ Observations," pp. 230, 231.

only the destruction that was to befall the Jewish state ; at which time, the Christians, who endured to the end, were to be saved (Matt. x. 22, and xxiv. 13). These also are called the elect, in Matt. xxiv. 22, 24. And Ecclesiastical history informs us, that, by a divine admonition, the faithful Christians retired from Judea before the ruin of it by the Romans, and were preserved. (See Matt. iii. 12; xxiv. 22. Luke xxi. 18, 36.)" Dr. Hammond says; “The only objection against this interpretation is, that this destruction being wrought by the Roman army, and those as much enemies of Christianity as any, and the very same people, that had joined with the Jews to put Christ to death, it doth thereupon appear strange, that either of those armies which are called abominable, should be called God's armies, or that Christ should be said to come, when in truth it was Vespasian and Titus, that thus came against this people. To this I answer, that it is ordinary with God, in the Old Testament, to call those Babylonish, Assyrian, heathen armies his, which did his work in punishing the Jews, when they rebelled against him. Christ is fitly said to come, when his ministers do come; that is, when either heathen men, or Satan himself, who are executioners of God's will, when they think not of it, are permitted by him to work destruction on his enemies."

These quotations are a specimen of the general language of commentators on this subject. You see, therefore, that we are not alone in our views on this point; that, so far from this, we agree with the great body of the Christian church. I attach, however, infinitely more importance to the

testimony of Jesus and his apostles, than to the opinion of men ; and to their testimony I now invite your attention.

In the 10th chapter of St. Matthew, we read as follows; “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues ; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father, which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child ; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for, verily, I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come.” Matt. x. 16 - 23. Here we have the commission of the apostles; the cruel persecutions they would have to encounter; the course they should pursue under those persecutions; and the reward of their remaining faithful. Now, when would their persecutions end? and their reward be conferred? The answer is ready ; When the Son of man should come. Then, of course, his coming must have been in their time; or else they could not have remained under persecution till

« PredošláPokračovať »