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appearing will be agreed on all those minor points of their present differences.
4. THE GOSPEL POWERFULLY AND EVERYWHERE SPREAD FIRST.
But this “gospel of the kingdom,” with Christ, the great King, “at hand," must “be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come."'* Though there may be discrepancies of opinion among us on this subject, I am constrained, from the Bible, yet to look for a very sudden, swift, and powerful spread of the gospel, of the Judge now at the door, throughout all nations and tongues, to prepare the way for Christ's sudden appearance. But as this is to be " a short work," "cut short in righteousness” by the “midnight cry” and general outpouring of the Spirit on the scattered and overcome saints, my continual prayer and expectation are for its immediately being done, as it may all be done, with present preparations, within one year, even without miracles, when Christ may come, as well as at any more remote period. But as to the theory of multitudes of conversions before Christ's coming, I surely cannot say that it will be so, for the Scriptures do not affirm it, but rather that the foolish virgins, sleeping till that midnight cry, or sudden preaching of the gospel, (effectually to the wise,) will have no oil, till the Bridegroom shall come and shut the door against them.
5. THE CHURCH EVERYWHERE AWAKENED FIRST.
According to the same parable and parallel passages, the wise, or the saints universally, will, for a very short time, (how short, I know not,) be wide awake, with trimmed lamps, to go with the Bridegroom in to the marriage, at his coming; though he will find his enemies still in midnight darkness, and as unprepared and unsuspicious of his coining at all, as in case of the antediluvians and Sodomites, on being suddenly all destroyed with the flood, and fire and brimstone rained down from heaven. And in like manner, as the Scriptures teach, the unbelieving wicked will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, persecuting, mocking, and scoffing, more and more, till, as the lightning from heaven, Christ and his whole kingdom will come upon them, and, in a twinkling, they will all " go away into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
6. WORLDLY BUSINESS AS USUAL TILL CHRIST COMES.
Of course, the Scriptures teach, that while the wicked, including false brethren, will continue their unbelieving, worldly speculations, riot, and the like, worldly things and events will proceed as at present, though with rapidly
* Matt. XXI 14. Rev. xiv. 6, 7
increased inventions, improvements, and convulsions in their great combinations and public affairs. Worldly business of every kind will be pushed forward till the last; and even the saints, not knowing the particular time of the end, will be in duty bound to be diligent in every good word and work, not even to the neglecting of their bodily wants; so that, on the very last day, and at the very moment of their Lord's “sudden" "appearing,” they will, many of them, be employed with the wicked; and “at the mill," "in the field," " on the house-top," or " in bed together;" when, “ in a twinkling," at his coming, “the one shall be taken, and the other left.” “Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
ON THE SIGNS OF
CHRIST'S SECOND COMING "QUICKLY,”
BY HENRY JONES, OF NEW YORK,
Before the 2d General Conference on the Advent, at Lowell, Ms., June 15, 16, 17, 1841.
" What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world ?”—Matt.
This was a question of Christ's disciples, proposed to himself, on hearing him speak of his coming " in the name of the Lord," at the destruction of his enemies, and in the overthrow of all their works, or in the dissolution of all earthly things.*
Without revealing the precise time of the great event, in answering this question, Christ did foretell the coming to pass of several previous events, to be the signs of its coming, according to the question, and then lays a command on the genealogy of his people, to "know that it is near, even at the
doors," on their seeing these signs.* In the examination of these foretold signs, which are in harmony with others, given by the former and latter prophets for the same purpose, I design to proceed on the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE, that, in all cases, such prophecies as these are given literally, and not mystically. Accordingly, I shall understand Christ's "coming, and the end of the world,” only to mean Christ's “coming and the end of the world ;” and I shall understand “the signs” of this same period to be literally the very "signs” visibly to come to pass, precisely as foretold, and but just before that great day, instead of mystifying them, as some have presumed to do, into the political and other events which occurred in the closing up of the “ Jewish dispensation.” I am well aware that, in doing this, I pass boldly over ground very much untrod in modern times, yet it is with becoming deference and kindness of feeling toward those who may still conscientiously question the principle now laid down. Daring unbelievers and hypocrites may rage and scoff at the result of this principle, till, too late for themselves, they will perceive its solemn and awful truth; as it is revealed of them,-" And none of the wicked shall understand ; but the wise shall understand": ---" And God shall send them (the wicked] strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”+
The expression, “at hand," many times attached to the “great day," and coming again of the Lord, and uttered thousands of years before its coming to pass, is very naturally understood, from its uniform connection—(1.) As an awakening admonition at all times, until the last, to all persons reading or hearing it, that the time of their departure is verily “at hand,” when they must meet the Lord, and witness and experience the scenes of the future and eternal state, as really as in case of all men at the last day; (2.) As an admonition to all, and at all times, that the final judgment of the great day is comparatively “ at hand;" (3.) As an admonition of its being not only comparatively, but in all respects, very near to all, on the witnessed fulfilling of the prophetic signs usually connected with the event, when said to be “at hand," or "nigh at hand ;" and, (4.) It is understood as an admonition, especially now, on witnessing the various foretold signs of its approach so far fulfilled, and rapidly fulfilling, that we should be prepared immediately, every one of us, without * Matt. xxiv. 33.
+ Dan. xii. 10. 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12.
loss of time, for the tremendous events of that great day, which is to break as the lightning-flash upon the astonished multitudes of those who shall continue to "put far off the evil day.” In the latter sense only, the subject is now to be contemplated; and in doing it, the proof may be presented in two parts, viz., CIRCUMSTANTIAL and POSITIVE PROOF.
I. The circumstantial proof is to be presented, that the great day of the Lord's returning to judge the world is now absolutely near, and may come, for aught we can know, within a single year.
1. No PROPHECY TO THE CONTRARY.
Since the first advent of Christ, there has been no other so great unfulfilled prophecy as of that advent, foretelling the second, to be otherwise than near. Christ himself, on giving the signs of its near approach, never gave the least countenance to the imagination of its being remote. Neither have any of his apostles since intimated a word, even of the possibility of the day afar off. Paul, in saying, “But that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first," could not surely mean 10 represent it afar off; because, in the same connection, he says, “ But the mystery of iniquity doth already work," as though this might indicate the “ falling away” to be very near, or already begun. Furthermore, he could not have represented the day afar off, without positively contradicting his own oft-repeated declarations, such as, “ The time is short,” &c. Neither could he have so taught, consistently with his looking for Christ himself descending from heaven, so nigh, as possibly to find him and his brethren still alive and remaining, to be changed and caught up with the saints, who will rise on the occasion. *
2. Much PropheCY OF SECOND ADVENT "QUICKLY.”
Christ uniformly spake of the great event of his coming, as being "at hand,” coming “in a little while," and coming "quickly.;'t which it would seem impossible for him to do consistently, had he ever authorized his prophets to foretell the event so far off, as not now to be actually near.
3. APOSTOLIC Faith OF SECOND ADVENT “QUICKLY.”
All who followed Christ, and listened to his instructions, understood him to foretell his return as even then being near, and not in any respect afar off, to themselves or others. It is apparent that they so understood him, from the fact that his words are left on record for us, and we see
* 1 Thess. iv. 15-17.
7 John xvi. 16–19. Rev. xxii. 12, 20.
that he uniformly and plainly so informed them, and that they used similar language in speaking of it as being near, when mentioning its distance. They frequently spake in this manner: “ The end of all things is at hand ;" “ The coming of the Lord draweth nigh;" “ Behold, the Judge stundeth before the door ;" “ For yet a little while,”* &c.
4. TEMPORAL DEATH NOT FORETOLD FIRST.
It is a remarkable circumstance of the New Testament, though apparently overlooked very much at this time, that it contains not a single assurance to any particular individuals, except Peter, of their not being found alive themselves at Christ's second coming. Paul, on saying, “It is appointed unto men once to die,''t did not mention any individuals or class then living, who had this appointment; neither did he say, that this appointment was for all " men ;' nor could he have done it in truth, nor without a palpable contradiction of himself, in saying, at another time, on this very subject, “ We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."'I Christ foretold the martyrdom of some of his faithful people, without designating any except the one already mentioned. Otherwise, there is no assurance to one of us now living, that we shall positively meet our Judge before his "coming in the clouds” to judgment. And yet the universality of temporal death at hand, as a substitute for the judgment at hand, is almost the whole alleged gospel of the present age of unbelief and darkness on that particular subject. Seeing, then, that this substitute of the universal certainty of death at hand, as an awakening consideration, is wholly unauthorized, and even repelled in the New Testament, being no substitute at all, so to speak, (as appears from the decline of primitive faith under the use of it,) why should we not all, who pretend to believe in the actual coming of the Judge at hand, expunge at once from our prayers, our exhortations, and other religious instructions and remarks, this substitute of death at hand, and place in its stead the true doctrine of our own and the apostles' belief, of the coming of Christ and the judgment at hand? This was what made Felix, the Roman governor, to tremble, and almost persuaded king Agrippa to be a Christian; and was indeed the great power of the gospel for the awakening of the careless in primitive ages, and most certainly will be so again, when it shall be prominently presented by the church and her ministry, as in the apostles' days.
* 1 Pet. iv. 7. Jas, v. 8, 9. Heb. x. 36, 37. $1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.
+ Heb. ix. 27.