Page images

should come and find us unprepared to meet him. But in order to quicken the diligence of his people when it is most needed, and leave them without excuse if they should be taken unawares, Christ has given certain signs of his approach, at the appearance of which those who are watching might rejoice and lift up the head, as knowing that their redemption draweth nigh. These signs of necessity preceded the fall of Jerusalem, in such a sense as to warn the disciples to flee from the doomed city, and to exhibit the wrath of God on that apostate people; as the type of the still heavier burden of woe which shall fall on apostate Christendom, when it shall have rejected God's last offers of mercy, and sinned not only against the Father and the Son, but against the Holy Ghost.

The signs in the world which our Lord gives for the warning of his people, are the same both for that generation and for this; but the false Christs, which are signs in the church, are twice given, and with such variation as to shew that the false Christs of this our generation should be more dangerous to the church than any that should have previously arisen, "insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect.” The false Christs shape their delusions according to the general espectations of the church, or the prejudices of the people. The pretenders, near the decline of the Jewish state, addressed the worldly ambition of their followers, and promised them deliverance from the Roman yoke: The pretenders risen up in our time play upon the spiritual notions now prevalent in the church, and upon the false doctrines concerning both the nature and use of miracles which are now current among the people. These pretenders are so numerous that a short account of such as have come to our knowledge would fill a volume : we can only at present state, that there are many now in London, and elsewhere, who say “I am Christ,” and who not only pretend to work miracles, but actually do "shew great signs and wonders,” and who preach doctrines which exceed in enormity, and surpass in variety, subtlety, and plausibility, all the heresies of the East, and all the superstitions of the West.

The external signs of wars, and earthquakes, famines, and pestilences, fearful sights, and men's hearts failing them for fear, were very observable before the destruction of Jerusalem. Wars, and rumours of wars, and civil commotions were so prevalent, that Josephus says every city throughout Syria was divided into two camps; that it was the security of one party to anticipate the destructive designs of the other, and that the whole province was full of unspeakable calamities.

Earthquakes also were very frequent: Suetonius mentions one, Tacitus another, at Rome; and there was a third at Apamea, in

[ocr errors]

the reign of Claudius. There was an earthquake at Laodicea, in the reign of Nero, and Eusebius says that three cities of Asia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, were overthrown by an earthquake at the same time. In the year 62, Campania was visited by a destructive earthquake, and many other places suffered about the same time, as Smyrna, Chios, Samos, &c. Josephus mentions one at Jerusalem, and says, that there was a horrible tempest, violent winds and rain, frequent lightnings, terrible thunders, and mighty roarings and quakings of the earth, as if the very foundations of the earth had been disturbed. About the same time many countries were afflicted with famine. In Judea there was a grievous famine in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, which also affected Rome, Italy, and the West.

Pestilences also appeared in divers places. Judea and various parts of Syria suffered severely from such visitations. In Rome, a great mortality took place in the year 65. And during the reign of Nero there were several such plagues, thirty thousand persons dying at Rome in one autumn.

Strange appearances in the heavens are likewise recorded by Josephus and the other historians of that time. A sword seemed to hang over Jerusalem in the air for nearly a year, and armies in battle array and rushing into conflict, were represented in the clouds and lightnings which appeared.

These various signs which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, and which we have not space to do more than glance at, shall be again manifested in the judgments upon apostate Christendom, of which Jerusalem was the type. Many of them are

. actually appearing now; and we call upon our readers to look out for themselves, since we cannot do more than briefly and partially advert to them.

A pamphlet has been printed at Leipsic, entitled Die grossen Natur-Begebenheiten unsrer Tage erklärt aus den Weissagungen der heilegen Schrift, oder die zeichen der lezten Zeit verglichen mit den zeichen unsrer Zeit ; that is “ The great Events of Nature in our days explained by the Prophecies in Holy Writ, or the Signs of the last time compared with the Signs of our Time. On the title-page is added, Ein Wort an die gesammte Christenheit ; or, A Word to the whole of Christendom.” The first chapter is entitled, “Signs of the Return of Christ in Nature ;” and at the heads of it are, first, Signs in Heaven; and second, Signs on Earth. Under the first, the author gives extracts of all the remarkable phenomena in nature, which have been noticed in the various journals, philosophical and others, of Germany: and unquestionably there is a most remarkable list. The signs on earth which our author has enumerated are still more numerous, consisting of earthquakes, storms, eruptions of burning mountains,


fireballs, columns of fire (Feuersäulen), avalanches of rocks and earth (Erd-und Bergstürge), rain of meteoric stones, remarkable meteors, sea-storms, inundations, hail-storms, extruordinary heat.

Of this curious list, those which have taken place in Great Britain, particularly the sea storms and inundations, are by no means exaggerated, but rather understated; and hence it is fair to infer, that such as have taken place in the immediate vicinities of the spots where the journals are published are also not exaggerated; but after making a full deduction on this score, a very remarkable catalogue still remains.

The second chapter is, “The Signs of the Return of Christ among Men (in der Menschenwelt), and the outward Condition of Men in that time." This state the writer shews to have been, during the last three years, one peculiarly subject to plague, pestilence, and famine. Under the head of " Internal State of Men," he shews them to be remarkably addicted to building, dancing, singing, and all similar frivolities; a very large portion of which examples are furnished from this sinful nation and metropolis. The last portion of this chapter is on “ Antichrist;" the present signs of whose appearance he also gives.

The third chapter commences with the Signs of the Return of Christ in the Ecclesiastical World;" amongst which the author enumerates “the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world,” which he shews to have been already fully performed at some period or other of this dispensation, especially since the establishment of the Propaganda by Pope Gregory, and completed by the English Missionary Societies since 1794. The remaining divisions of this chapter relate to “false prophets," apostacy,” “true prophets,” and “conversion of the Jews.” On these last two points the author requires to have " the way expounded to him more clearly."

In the chapter on true prophets, he thinks it probable that true prophets will appear on the earth, and false prophets also. Among these last, some tokens of their present appearance are given ; but the author is not better versed in the criteria necessary for discerning true from false, than his brethren are amongst ourselves.

The public papers for some time past have recorded an unusual number of earthquakes, floods, and fiery eruptions; from the extraordinary flood, in 1825, which made such devastation at St. Petersburgh, to the volcanic island which rose in the Mediterranean three months back. Earthquakes have been felt almost every week in some parts of Europe. On the 11th of September last, a severe shock was felt at Venice and Parma; and on the 13th of September a mountain near Bregenz, in Switzerland split asunder with a frightful noise, and an opening of 50 feet in width was formed. Forests of fir were overthrown;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


large rocks removed, and a brook entirely disappeared.-Morning Herald, Oct. 5, 1831.

Thunder-storms have been notoriously frequent during the last summer; and on the 11th of August that tremendous hurricane began, which desolated so large a portion of Barbadoes and St. Vincent's; to alleviate the effects of which subscriptions are now being collected in England.

The following is extracted from the Record newspaper, of November 14, 1831:

Constantinople, October 10.-On the 5th instant, a natural phenomenon, such as few persons remember, and the effects of which have been most destructive, filled with terror the inhabitants of this country; who are at the same time suffering under all kinds of evils. After an uncommonly sultry night, threatening clouds rose, about six in the morning, in the horizon, to the southwest, and a noise between thunder and tempest, and yet not to be compared with either, increased every moment; and the inhabitants of the capital, roused from their sleep, awaited, with anxious expectation, the issue of this threatening phenomenon. Their uncertainty was not of long duration : lumps of ice, as large as a man's foot, falling, first singly, and then like a thick shower of stones, which destroyed every thing that they came in contact with. The oldest persons do not remember ever to have seen such hailstones. Some were picked up, half an hour afterwards, which weighed above a pound. This dreadful storm passed over Constantinople, and along the Bosphorus, over Therapis, Bojukden, and Belgrade : and the fairest, nay, the only hope of this beautiful and fertile tract, the vintage, just commenced, was destroyed in a day, Animals of all kinds, and even some persons, are said to have been killed; an innumerable number are wounded; and the damage done to the houses is incalculable. Besides that, scarcely a window has escaped in all the country. The force of the fallen masses of ice was so great, that they broke to atoms all the tiles on the roofs, and scattered, like musket-balls, planks half an inch thick. Since that day the rain has not ceased to pour down in torrents, and, from the slight way in which the houses are built, almost wholly consisting of windows, and with very flat roofs, that have nothing to keep off wet besides tiles, innumerable families are not much more comfortable than a bivouac. If, in addition to this, we consider that, in consequence of the burning of Peru, and the great fires in Constantinople itself, many have no shelter whatever; and recollect, besides, the plague, which continues to spread, and the cases of Cholera, which still occur; the whole together makes a most gloomy picture. The delay which has taken place, in rebuilding the houses burnt down, is not yet remedied, because the directions


have not yet been published, which are to obviate the defects of the mode of building hitherto practised, and to afford greater security against fire; and, however injurious this delay may be to many an unsheltered family, it may be easily accounted for, without imputing blame to the government, which has to contend with innumerable obstacles in the introduction of any, even the most useful, innovation. The houses taken from the Catholic Armenians, at the time of the persecution, most of which are in ruins, have been restored to them.”

The signs in the sun, and zodiacal lights, and aurora borealis of last year, must be vividly fresh in the minds of most of our readers. And, still more recently, very remarkable phenomena have been observed both in America and in Europe. -—“ New York, August 18, 1831. The sun, yesterday afternoon, from half past five until seven o'clock, presented a singular and unpleasant aspect. The whole surface was green, as the sea water or Brazilian emerald, emitting not a single beam. Such, also, was the state of the heavens, as to create an optical delusion. The great orb of light seemed to have left the skies; and to hang in our own atmosphere suspended, like a balloon, at no very great distance from the

"This city (Genoa) has lately presented, almost daily, some solar phenomenon. A zodiacal light, which lengthened the day one hour, continued from the 4th to the 12th instant (August 1831). Another celestial phenomenon, not less remarkable, appeared on the 9th. Towards five o'clock in the afternoon, a light cloud of vapours suddenly covered the horizon, and enveloped the sun. It was at once beautiful and curious to see the luminary of day laying aside his dazzling brightness, appear in the firmament as behind a light veil, presenting its disc to the sight of every spectator. First it was like an immense globe of limpid crystal; it afterwards assumed a shade of rose colour, and at last a delicate violet. Five or six large black spots could be easily discerned by the eye; one of them on the upper edge of the planet; the others nearly in the centre, at a short distance from each other. This phenomenon lasted above an hour.”

But the greatest and most conclusive present sign of the speedy coming of the Lord, is that fearful pestilence which, having swept across the breadth of the world, hath now reached our shores. “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid : O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years : in wrath, remember mercy. God came from Teman. His glory covered the heavens; and the earth was full of his praise. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. stood and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations. Thou didst march through the land in indignation; thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »