« AnteriorContinuar »
5. PRIMITIVE TWO HUNDRED YEARS' FAITH OF THE ADVENT "QUICKLY."
T'he church, with martyr spirits, for two hundred years, or till their falling away from her faith, so understood this doctrine from Christ and the apostles; and they preached the coming again of their Lord as being at hand. Gibbon, a champion of infidelity, in addition to the history of the church on this subject, affirms this as a fact, attempting to wield it as a weapon against Christianity. In doing it, he maintains that the whole system of the Christian religion is false, because those anticipations of the early saints, truly founded on the gospel, are not yet realized in the Lord's actual coming before now. But most surely he would not have brought this important fact to support his infidelity, had not the present very spirit of that infidelity so overcome the church, in wresting from her embrace that precious, primitive, and powerful doctrine of the Lord's soon coming to deliver Israel, at the resurrection and judgment. With the lively anticipations of this blessed event, and constant preparations for it, it is self-evident that believers can never backslide. So far, certainly, these facts are fair circumstantial testimony in favor of our all returning to this primitive and comforting doctrine of the church, and of our preaching it again so rousingly through the earth, that open infidelity will resort to other weapons than this, to prove Christianity a fiction.
6. MODERN ORIGIN OF CONTRARY DOCTRINE.
The opposite of Christ's coming at hand, as now quite popular, is but a very modern doctrine in the faith of believers. History shows that in the martyr-age of the church, three hundred years ago, the sentiment authorizing the putting far away the great day was publicly repudiated, rather than fostered, by the watchmen. The public creeds, also, of all the branches of the evangelical church, on this subject, have, apparently on purpose, excluded the flattering sentiment of looking for the judgment afar off. Also, the parallel and explanatory references of our still popular Polyglott and Bible Society's Reference Bibles, long ago selected by men eminently learned both in the letter and spirit of holy truth, do most clearly explain the prophecies of Christ's second coming as being at hand, rather than afar off. And, indeed, it seems from a retrospect of the past, only for a short time, that the theory of a long paradisiacal state of the church in this world, to authorize the delay of the Lord's coming, or to hedge up its way, has gained, perhaps, ninety-nine hundredths of its present popularity within the last century, and that it may be considered
as the fruitful source, or legitimate parent, of the multiplied and gross evils which have since made havoc of the faith of the church.
II. Positive Scripture proof is to be presented, showing the special near coining of Christ and his glorious kingdom to judgment.
1. VISIBLE SIGHTS AS SIGNS FULFILLED.
The “ fearful sighis, and great signs from heaven,"'* already come to pass, as foretold, are brought as proof on this point. These “sights and signs" of Christ's near coming, I must understand as literal, and to be really seen; for surely a fearful-looking object in the heavens could not be indeed a “sight” at all, without being visible and actually seen. They are some of them given in answer to the question, “ What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world ?''+ And they are uniformly connected with the great day of the Lord's coming, and sometimes represented as “sights” to be seen, or to come to pass, “BEFORE that great and terrible,” or “ dreadful day of the Lord come.''† These “sights” are represented as “lood, and fire, and pillars of smoke ;''S "the sun turned into darkness, and the moon into blood ;'' || “the stars falling from heaven, as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs when shaken with a mighty wind.”[
Such “sights" as these, or nearly all of them, have appeared in the heavens, literally and precisely as foretold; while we and our late fathers have seen them. As a single specimen of these “fearful sights,” the following may be now given:
“ From late London papers." “ London, Sept. 5, [1839.]—Between the hours of ten on Tuesday night and three yesterday morning, in the heavens was observed one of the most magnificent specimens of those extraordinary phenomena, the falling stars and northern lights, witnessed for many years past. The first indication of this singular phenomenon was about ten minutes before ten, when a light crimson, apparently vapor, rose from the northern hemisphere, and gradually extended to the centre of the heavens, and by ten o'clock, or a quarter past, the whole, from east to west, was one vast sheet of light. It had a most alarming (or 'fearful’] appearance, and was exactly like that occasioned by a terrific fire.
* Luke xxi. 11.
+ Matt. xxiv. 3.
Joel ii. 31.
The light varied considerably; at one time it seemed to fall, and directly after rose with intense brightness. There were to be seen with it volumes of smoke, 'pillars of smoke,'] which rolled over and over; and every beholder seemed convinced that it was a tremendous conflagration, for 'fire.'] The consternation for fearful' effect] in the metropolis was very great: thousands of persons were running in the direction of the supposed awful catastrophe. The engines belonging to the fire brigade stations in Baker street, Farrington street, Watling street, Waterloo road, and likewise those belonging to the West of England station-in fact, every fire-engine in London was horsed and galloped after the supposed scene of destruction, with more than ordinary energy, followed by carriages, horsemen, and vast mobs. Some of the engines proceeded as far as Highgate and Holloway, before the error was discovered. These appearances I fearful sights'] lasted for upwards of two hours, and towards morning the spectacle became one of more grandeur.
"At two o'clock in the morning, the phenomenon presented a most gorgeous scene, and one very difficult to describe. The whole of London was illuminated as light as noon-day, and the atmosphere was remarkably clear. The southern hemisphere, at the time mentioned, although unclouded, was very dark; but the stars, which were innumerable, shone beautifully. The opposite side of the heavens presented a singular, but magnificent contrast: it was clear to extreme, and the light was very vivid. There was a continual succession of meteors, which varied in splendor. They appeared formed in the centre of the heavens, and spread till they seemed to burst. The effect was electrical. Myriads of small stars shot out over the horizon, and darted with that swiftness toward the earth, that the eye scarcely could follow the track; they seemed to burst also, and to throw a dark, crimson vapor over the entire hemisphere. The colors were most magnificent. At half past two o'clock the spectacle changed to darkness, which, on dispersing, displayed a luminous rainbow in the zenith of the heavens, and round the ridge of darkness that overhung the southern portion of the country. Soon afterward, columns of silvery light radiated from it. They increased wonderfully, intermingled among crimson vapor, which formed at the same time, and when at full height, the spectacle was beyond all imagination. Stars were darting about in all directions, and continued until four o'clock, when all died away. During the scene, a great many persons assembled on the bridges across the river Thames, where they had a commanding view of the heavens, and watched the progress of the phenomenon attentively.”—[New York Commercial Advertiser, Oct. 22, 1839.]
By consulting the above New York “Commercial Advertiser," of Sept. 4, and the New York “Christian Advocate and Journal,” of Sept. 13, 1839, it will be noticed that the above phenomena were seen extensively through this country on the same night as in England, so far as respects the lights, though somewhat less - terrific” than in Europe. The fiery lights and blood-colored snow on the ground, in this country, on the night of Jan. 25th, 1837, will be remembered by thousands, who were deeply affected at the " fearful sight.” And so will they remeniber the “sight," which actually made thousands to fear greatly, through this country and elsewhere, on the morning of Nov. 13, 1833, when, for two hours, the very stars " from heaven”. appeared to be all falling to the earth, as the fruit from a tree when violently shook off.
It is true that these sights, some of them seen more or less for over a century past, and increasingly so of late, are now not popularly called by name, as called and described in the prophecies; though the darkening of the sun, in the year 1780, is called “the dark day," while the "sights” of “ blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke,” are called "northern lights,” or “the Aurora Borealis," and those of the stars falling are called “showers of meteors.” As foretold, and to be expected, none but such as love the appearing of Christ will ever understand these “sights," when perfectly fulfilled, as any sign at all of its being near. For others will continue to the last in denying them as “signs ;" in saying, "all things continue as they were ;" and " where is the promise of his coming ?"* Accordingly, the "oppositions of science, faisely so called,"4 in the present age, have already taken a firm stand against the position that any of these " fearful sights and great signs” in the heavens, are among the foretold "signs of Christ's coming at hand.
Without spending time to answer any of the multiplied theories conflicting one with another, in the efforts of unbelief, to prove that all these “sights” have resulted from natural causes; that they have been common ever since the creation; and that none of them are the fulfilling of any prophecy of Christ's second coming; it may be sufficient now to say, that, (1.) Such “sights and signs” have truly appeared to * 2 Peter uii. 4.
11 Tim. i 20.
their astonished beholders, at first view, to be as literally a fulfilling of the prophecies, as could be given by him who foretold them.
(2.) They have had every appearance of being altogether as supernatural, and fitted to be “ great signs” of such an event, as represented in the prophecies concerning them.
(3.) Understanding the Lord to speak literally, or to mean something as solemn and important as his words literally imply, these sights are indeed among the “great signs” of the great and terrible day of the Lord,” in his soon coming.
(4.) The efforts of science and unbelief combined, have hitherto failed, and must finally fail, of showing any consistent natural cause for such "sights ;" thus virtually leaving them as the supernatural events foretold.
(5.) The same efforts must also fail, in attempting to prove from history, or any other source, that these sights are as ancient as the lightning, the eclipses, and the rainbow in the heavens; since, to say the least, there is certainly no inspired, nor other indubitable testimony of their great antiquity, as there is in case of the lightning, &c. More than this, they surely are modern in their origin, let human testimony be what it may; because we have much inspired testimony that they are not so ancient as “creation," but rather that they are modern and latter-day events; in their being the repeated and express foretold "signs” immediately to precede the Lord's coming. For, if as ancient as the lightning, they would of course no more naturally admonish men of the great day at hand, than the lightning itself has done it in every thunder-shower since the creation.
(6.) In letting “God be true, but every man a liar," we must, after all human testimony to the contrary, allow that those sights and signs are rather modern, and that they do apprize us of the near approach of our blessed Lord in his kingdom; since God has repeatedly and most clearly declared that those events "shall be the sign of” his "coming and of the end of the world."* To affirm the opposite, surely, is no less than blasphemously reversing the Lord's words, in virtually saying, Let every man be true, but God a liar.
2. FORETOLD GREAT DECEPTIONS COME TO PASS.
The deceptions now long palmed upon the church, as to the oft-foretold event of Christ's second coming, are now brought as positive proof of the event at hand. The first
* Matt. xxiv. 33.