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(Not in the former Editions)
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.-Acts i. 11,
SIGNS OF THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captives into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring.
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.-St. Luke xxi. 24–28,
THE CITY OF CONFUSION TO BE DESTROYED AT THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD
For thou hast made of a city an heap, of a defenced city a ruin; a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.-Isaiah xxv. 2,
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN ITS CONNEXION WITH THE DISPERSION AND COMING RESTORATION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.-Romans xi. 25-29,
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN ITS CONNEXION WITH THE PRESENT SUFFERING, AND COMING GLORY OF THE SAINTS; THE PRESENT PROUD PROSPERITY, AND COMING UTTER DESTRUCTION OF THE UNGODLY.
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.
And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels; in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.-2 Thess. i. 6-9,
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN ITS CONNEXION WITH THE PRESENT GROANING MISERY, AND THE COMING RENOVATION UNTO ELESSEDNESS, OF THE WHOLE EARTH.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold! I make all things new.
THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN ITS EXPERIMENTAL AND PRACTICAL POWER OVER THE TRUE BELIEVER'S HEART.
To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me, in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.Rev. iii. 21,
THE following Sermons were preached in the ordinary course of the Author's Ministry, during the season of Advent, and without any original intention of publication. They were taken down in short-hand at the instance of some members of the Congregation, and sent to me in manuscript, with a request that I would prepare them for the press. I have done so with care; and my heart's desire and prayer in the publication, as in the preaching of them, is this-O my God! who hast called me to the ministry of thy glorious Gospel, bless me in it, and make me a blessing; teach me to speak thy truth, and teach thy people to receive it with pure affection; teach me to sow the seed of eternal life, and teach them to reap the same; that both he who soweth, and they who reap, may rejoice together, in the day of the Lord Jesus!
There still exists a prejudice against the views of unfulfilled prophecy, which are advocated in these Sermons. It is supposed that they are curiously speculative rather than experimentally practical; and that all those persons who entertain them, must of necessity belong to the visionary school of modern fanaticism, rather than to the "good old way" of sound and sober theology.
It must indeed be confessed, that several distressing causes have conspired to give too much apparent ground for this opinion. But it ought in fairness to be remembered, that accurate and candid discrimination, is an indispensable ingredient in every intelligent and honest inquiry. It is the part of the disingenuous to mingle truth and falsehood together in one mixture. It is the danger of the unwary, either to receive or reject the whole mixture without discrimination. In either case, our great Enemy triumphs. If the whole mixture be rejected, one of his objects is gained in the suppression of truth. If the whole be received, another of his objects is gained in the circulation of error. It is the privilege of the wise to discriminate; to analyze the mixture; to adhere to truth against every
hindrance, against every species of obloquy, or difficulty, or distress; and to reject and resist error, in the face of every solicitation, and blandishment, and bribe of a compromising world: to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.*
I. First, then; an inquiry into the true interpretation of the unfulfilled prophecies of Scripture, ought not to be judged by the unscriptural conjectures in which some of its advocates have indulged. Precise dates have been given. Geographical, architectural, and other details have been insisted on. And even individual men and measures of modern times, have been confidently set forth, as specially intended in such and such prophecies. By interpretations (if they deserve that name) of this character, the writer of the following pages has been deeply grieved. But, surely, it would be most unreasonable to be thereby deterred altogether from any inquiry, into so large a portion of the word of God; ALL of which has been given by inspiration, and written for our learning.
It is undeniable, that some persons abuse the doctrines of the free grace of God, and the all-sufficient atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, into an excuse for careless living. But does it therefore follow, that we must either become Antinomians, or reject the Gospel altogether? Surely not. In like manner, some persons abuse the true and proper humanity of the Lord Jesus, into Socinianism. But does it therefore follow, that we must either become Socinians, or deny the Saviour's manhood? Surely not.
In all such cases, discrimination is wisdom; and without pains-taking inquiry, men must fall into error, either of excess or defect. The same is true in the case now before us. Some persons have identified the "wilful king" of Daniel xi. with Napoleon Bonaparte; and one interpreter has proceeded gravely to inform his readers, that the "ships of Chittim," mentioned by the Prophet at the 30th verse of that chapter, designated the British fleet, under Lord Nelson, in the year 1798, and more particularly, the squadron, under Sir Sidney Smith, which prevented Bonaparte from getting possession of St. John d'Acre.t Is it then a matter of necessity, that we must either adopt such a line as this; or altogether give up any further examination of what the prophets have written? Discrimination is wisdom; and if we refuse to exercise it upon this subject, we expose ourselves to the risk of either receiving, as the word of God, the ingenious fancies of men, or of rejecting as the fancies of men, the true and faithful word of God.
* 1 Thess. v. 21.
+ See Frere's Combined View,
II. This subject ought not to be judged by the practical inconsistencies of individual advocates, however distinguished. This has been done in our own times. The names of certain prominent men were associated with a literal interpretation of prophecy, for a considerable time: and then, afterwards, when those men embraced erroneous doctrines, or at least contended for modes of expression, and proceeded into the wild extravagance of supposed miraculous inspiration, in support of this error, and so eventually added schism to heresy-the whole weight of the opprobrium so incurred, recoiled upon the study of unfulfilled prophecy, and many persons were deterred from the inquiry altogether, and others who had entered upon it, gave it up, as though it were the inevitable precursor of some mischievous aberration.
The writer has been constrained to feel these things in deep bitterness of spirit; and he cannot look back upon the events of the last few years, without humbly adoring the rich unmerited mercy of a preserving God, by which a poor helpless sinner was enabled to detect the beginnings of error, and from that moment to resist the influence of associations long cherished; and at last, being compelled to the alternative, to break off all communication with men much beloved, rather than compromise his own convictions of the truth of God. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits," his watchful care, his restraining grace, his preserving power!
III. Man is a reasonable creature, and God deals with him as such. The great object, so far as man is concerned, of the truth revealed, is character to be produced. Sanctify them through thy truth, is the language of the great Intercessor, thy word is truth. But in order that truth may produce this transforming effect upon the character, it must be received as truth; really and cordially received; so that the heart can repose upon it with confidence as truth indeed. To require that any statement shall be felt to be practical before it is cordially believed to be true, is manifestly to subvert the order of cause and effect. The primary question is, what view of the subject is true? What is, indeed, revealed? What may I safely believe and trust in, so as afterwards to experience its practical influence?
"The coming of the Lord-the day of Christ-the day when. the Son of man shall be revealed-the Lord himself shall descend from heaven-the Lord shall be King over all the earth -if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him-we shall reign on the earth."-Whatever may be the true meaning of these and similar expressions, it is certain that by them all watchfulness, sobriety, diligence, and universal devotedness to