MATT. xvi. 3.
But can ye not discern the signs of the times?
OUR text is a question proposed by Christ to the Pharisees and Sadducees, at a time when they came to him, tempting him for a sign from heaven; and is a reproof upon them for their unbelief in the signs already given by the Old Testament writers, which they professed to believe, and which were actually fulfilling before their eyes, yet disregarded. The Pharisees and Sadducees were two of the most learned and popular sects among the Jews; many of them were scribes, lawyers, doctors, and teachers of the law; yet so perfectly blinded, that they could not or would not apply the most simple rules of interpretation to the law or prophets. They would apply the rules of common observation and common sense to the weather, but neither the one nor the other were used in understanding the Scriptures. They were well versed in the skill to tell the weather for the morrow, but had no skill in the promises, prophecies, and word of God. "When it is evening, ye say it will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather to-day, for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites! ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not (by the same simple rule) discern the signs of the times?"
All the signs given in the word of God, concerning the first
coming and person of the Messiah, were fulfilled before their eyes;
yet they were demanding more
and greater signs from heaven. Christ had, and was then performing miracles which no man on earth could perform, and they ascribed it to the power of Beelzebub. No evidence had or could be presented, which they were not ready to evade or deny; and yet they claimed all the learning, all the wisdom, and all the piety of that day. This was the character of those whom Christ calls hypocrites, and to whom he addresses the question, "But can ye not discern the signs of the times?" And happy would it have been for us, who live in this day of gospel light, when the gospel shines with greater effulgence than at any other period of time since the world began, if hypocrisy had died with the Pharisees and Sadducees; but it was not so. Any man, of common capacity of mind, if he divest himself of prejudice, or who will try to see the character of man as developed at the present day in matters of faith, will discover the same unbelief, the same disregard, the same taunting, tempting spirit concerning the second coming of the Messiah, as the Pharisees and Sadducees manifested in their conduct and conversation with our blessed Redeemer. And the question may with equal propriety, and I fear with tenfold force, be put to us at this day, if Christ was here, as then. And I have much reason to fear, that many may be found among our great, learned, and teachers of divine things, who would receive from our divine Master the same reproof, were he as then a teacher among us. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall." I shall, then, in treating on this subject, use my text as a reproof to us.
I. I shall show a number of signs which the Jews had in that day, as evidence of Jesus being the true Messiah.
II. Show the signs that Jesus Christ, the prophets, and apostles have given us of his second coming, now fulfilling in this day in which we live.
Under my first head, the signs of Jesus being the true Messiah, were,
1. The universal peace at his birth. Of this Isaiah ii. 3, 4, had
prophesied 760 years before, "And many people shall go and say, Come
ye, and let us go up to
the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn way any more." This prophecy was accomplished at his birth. For the temple of Janus was shut the very year our Savior was born, which denoted universal peace; and this must have been known to the Jewish rulers. Also the doctrines of Jesus Christ taught that they should forgive and pray for their enemies, and learn war no more. "Peace on earth and good will to men," was sung by the heavenly band when they announced the birth of the Savior in the city of David.
2. The star that appeared and guided the wise men to the place of his nativity, prophesied of by Balaam, Num. xxiv. 17. "There shall come a star out of Jacob," &c.;
3. A root out of Jesse. Isa. xi. 10, "In that day there shall be a root out of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek," &c.; That he was a descendant of David was well known to the Jews, for they were very scrupulous in their genealogies, and from the fact that he was born in the city of David when his parents went up to be taxed where their names were enrolled.
4. Born of a virgin. Isa. vii. 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." This was evidently fulfilled.
5. At Bethlehem. Micah v. 2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." This was fulfilled, according to their own showing, to the wise man from the east.
6. Herod slaying all the children in Bethlehem, from two years old
and under, prophesied of by Jeremiah, xxxi. 15, "A voice was heard in
and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children," &c.; This must have been known in all Judea.
7. Land forsaken of both of her kings. Isa. vii. 16, "For before the child shall know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." Herod and his successor both died before Jesus was of the common age to refuse the evil and choose the good.
8. Called out of Egypt. Hosea xi. 1, "And called my son out of Egypt."
9. His forerunner John. Isa. xl. 3, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." All Judea and Jerusalem went into the wilderness to John, and of course must have seen this sign.
10. Coming suddenly to his temple. Mal. iii. 1, "And the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple." For the fulfilment of this prophecy, read John vii. 11-14, "Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? Now about the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple, and taught."
11. The gospel preached. Isa. lxi. 1, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath appointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
12. The covenant confirmed one week or seven years. Daniel ix. 27, "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." John preached three years and a half, and Christ three and a half.
13. The blind see. Isa. xlii. 7, "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house."
14. The lame walk. Isaiah. xxxv. 6, "Then shall the lame men leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing."
15. The deaf hear. Isaiah xxxv. 5, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."
16. The dead are raised. Isaiah xxvi. 19, "And the earth shall cast out the dead."
17. His humility when on trial. Isaiah liii. 7, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."
18. The manner and circumstances of his death. Psalm xxii. 13-18, "They gaped upon me with their mouths as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out as water and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws, and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet; I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." This Psalm was indited more than 1000 years before Christ's crucifixion, and yet every word had an exact and literal accomplishment in that transaction, and the Jews saw it.
19. His resurrection. Psalm xvi. 10, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
20. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of pentecost. Joel ii. 28, "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." The apostle told them that this scripture was fulfilled at the day of pentecost, and this transaction was well known to the Jews.
21. The fulfilment of the seventy weeks spoken of by Daniel, ix.
24-27, which I have shown in a former lecture, was accomplished in a
day. And the Jews well understood it; for Caiaphas, being high priest
that year, said to the Jews, "Ye know nothing at all, nor consider
that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people,
and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of
himself, but being high priest that year he prophesied (or taught the
prophecy in Daniel) that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for
only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." John xi. 19-52.
This evidence was well understood among the rulers of the Jews; yet notwithstanding all this scripture was fulfilled before their faces, and all these signs were actually accomplished in the short space of thirty-five years, and a cloud of witnesses testifying to all these facts, and they themselves had to consent that notable miracles had been done, yet they believed not. Well may you say, dear hearer, that they deserved wrath, and God was just in destroying their nation and place. But how is it with us? Do we believe in that word which we blame them for rejecting? Are we clear of the sin of unbelief? The Jews were looking for a temporal king and kingdom. And are not we looking for a temporal millennium—one in which the Christians will have the rule of the world? Let us see to it that we do not stumble at the same stumbling-stone; possibly we may have carnal notions as well as they. Therefore, let us inquire,
II. What signs are now fulfilling, which are given us by Christ, the prophets, or apostles, of his second coming and glorious reign? And,
1. Christ tells us, Matt. xxiv. 14, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness, and then shall the end come." Is not this sign already accomplished? Bible translated into more than 200 different languages; missionaries sent among all the nations known to us on the globe, and reformation succeeding reformation in every town, nook or corner in this land. The gospel has now spread over the four quarters of the globe. It began in Asia. In the Apostles' days, that quarter was full of light. From thence it went into Africa; and, for a number of centuries, Africa stretched out her hands unto God. Europe, too, has had a long visitation of gospel blessings; and now America, the last quarter of the globe, is reaping a harvest of souls for the last day. The gospel, like the sun, arose in the east, and will set in the west.
2. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and the last reign of
grace. Daniel tells us, after Bonaparte should come
to his end, and none should help him, xii. 1, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people." This I have shown, in a former lecture, is the same angel that stood upon the waters of the river, clothed in linen, Daniel xii. 6; also the same angel that John saw, Rev. x. 1-6, standing, his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth, and in his hand a little book open. This angel told John that he must "prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings;" meaning that the gospel must again be published, as it had in the apostolic days. And then would this angel lift his hand to heaven, and swear by him that liveth forever and ever, that time should be no longer. Again, James says, v. 7, 8, "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." And now can any man, who has any knowledge of the present times, deny that God has poured out his spirit, in a remarkable manner, for twenty years past? Has not the gospel been spread in as rapid and extensive a manner, as in the apostolic day? Has not opposition and persecution of the kings of the earth, of the woman that sitteth on many waters, the sea, been in a great measure kept in check and powerless, by some invisible power, some mighty arm, until the servants of God should be sealed, the latter rain of grace descend, and God's purposes completed concerning this latter day? Here, then, we have a clear and visible sign, that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
3. "Many running to and fro." This is another important and
evident sign of the end. Daniel xii. 4, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up
the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Many shall
run to and fro." Whether the prophet means to be understood, "many
shall run to and fro" in a religious sense, or in a civil or temporal
sense, or whether he means in both, is perfectly immaterial for my
purpose. All must acknowledge, that this text is remarkably fulfilled
in this day, in either
point of view. If it means missionaries of the cross, no man can dispute the fulfilment. See the heralds of salvation crossing and re-crossing on every part of the habitable globe. If it means common travellers, or the rapid means of travel, still our text holds good, and the fulfilment obvious. No man, unless he is wilfully ignorant, can deny that this sign is not actually and literally fulfilled.
4. The great increase of knowledge given in the same text as above. "Even to the time of the end, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." View this in any point you please, whether theological or scientifical, it is literally true; in this day of invention and improvement, knowledge increases. What of the fifty different moral societies, which have become general in the Christian world? Is there no increase of knowledge in our Bible societies, Sabbath schools, tract societies, temperance societies, and a catalogue of others for moral reform? What can we say of all the inventions in the arts? What of all the improvements in science? In all this, is it not very evident that this sign is now fulfilling to the very letter?
5. The great increase of riches, and desire for laying up worldly
treasures, as described by James v. 1-3, "Go to, now, ye rich men,
weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you; your riches
are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten; your gold and your
silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against
you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped
treasure together for the last days." When, since the writer of this
epistle was on our earth, has there been such an increase of gold and
silver, and treasures of this life, as at this day? Our rich men are
laying up their gold, silver, and treasures in abundance. But, as
though this individual exertion for riches would not completely fulfil
our text, they have entered into all manner of companies and
monopolies, to "heap treasure together." When, in the history of the
world, can there be shown so many banking institutions as now? When
so much insurance capital as is heaped together at this day? Are not
our rich men per-
fectly infatuated with stocks of all kinds? And monopoly is the order of the day; to grind down the poor, and heap treasure together for the last days. Can any man, who has any knowledge of these things, deny that this sign of the last days is not evidently accomplished? Go to, ye rich men, weep and howl, for your miseries are come upon you.
6. The unwillingness of men to hear sound doctrine, taught us by Paul, 2 Tim. iv. 1-4, "I charge thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." My brethren, need I say one word on this passage? There is none of you so blind, but you see that this passage does actually describe the most fashionable preaching at the present day. How many thousand do run after that kind of preaching which is only relating fables, and that doctrine which gives all power to man?
7. Scoffers, say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" as Peter
informs us in his 2 Epistle, iii. 3, 4, "Knowing this first, that
there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For, since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of the creation." A right understanding of this text would
show us, at once, that many of us, who fancy we are in the highway to
heaven, are belonging to this class of scoffers. First, they walk
after their own lusts; that is, after their carnal notions concerning
the coming of Christ. They say all things will continue as they were
from the creation; they must have a temporal millenium; man must be
married and given in marriage; the world will not be burnt, and, My
Lord delayeth his coming, some say a thousand years, and some say
365,000 years, and all the moral change that takes place on our earth,
will be performed by the agency of man. Therefore, many scoff and
ridicule the idea, that Scrip-
ture tells us of the second coming of Christ, the manner, object, and time. And many are willingly ignorant; will not hear or read on this subject.
8. "Perilous times," as described in 2 Tim. iii. 1-7, "This know, also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away. For of this sort are they that creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
What better description of domestic and public society could we expect from the most close observer of private characters, domestic circles, and public societies of our times, than is here given? One would conclude, had he found this in any other book but the Bible, that it was a modern writer, well acquainted with the human heart, and the generations now on the earth.
9. "Departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." Thus Paul tells Timothy, 1 Epistle, iv. 1-3, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith," &c.; This, we must acknowledge, has been, and is now fulfilling. The whole, almost, of the Christian world have departed, or changed their faith within fifteen years; seducing spirits are evidently at work; hypocrites are multiplying among us; Roman Catholics, Shakers, Pilgrims, Fanny Wright, Owen, and others forbid to marry. Roman Catholics, and many others among us, are teaching to abstain from meats and drinks, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
10. False teachers, making merchandise of the gos-
pel. See 2 Peter ii. 1-3, "But there were false prophets, also, among the people; even as there shall be false teachers among you, you privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction; and many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of; and through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make merchandise of you, whose judgment of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." The apostle then goes on to show, that, as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so it would be in the days of these false teachers; one generation would not pass off before the judgment would overtake them, who make merchandise of the gospel, and like Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.
11. Jude gives us a sign, 4 to 19 verses, inclusive, "How they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts; these be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." Some preachers deny the agency of the Spirit in regeneration.
12. Christ gives a sign in Luke xxi. 25-28, "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 for those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens 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."
13. Christ gives another sign in Matt. xxiv. 23, 24, "Then, if any man say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not; for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." There can be no doubt of this sign being fulfilled.
14. The fulfilment of the parable of the ten virgins—the midnight cry has gone forth from every quarter of God's moral vineyard, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." The world has been, and are now, "trimming their lamps;" witness the Bible translated into all languages; the Bible societies sending Bibles to every nation and family on the earth, the Sabbath schools and Bible classes studying its sacred precepts.
15. The scattering of the holy people and division of sects, as prophesied of by Daniel, xii. 7, "And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." This prophesy is now fulfilling in a remarkable manner. Not one sect, who profess holiness, but are divided and subdivided into contending schisms, and that, too, within twenty years.
16. The division of the political world, as prophesied by John, Rev. xvi. 12-16, "And I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, for they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty"—and 19th verse, "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell." That these spirits are political, is evident, from the fact that they come out of the mouth of the dragon, (kings,) and beast, (Catholic,) false prophet, (Mahometan,) and unclean, signifying they are not holy things. This prophesy is now accomplishing. What nation, within our knowledge, is not already divided into three political parties? None, which is in any way known to your speaker.
17. The church has fulfilled her 1260 years in the wilderness,
spoken of in Rev. xii. 6, 14, "And the woman fled into the wilderness,
where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her
there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." These days were
evidently accomplished in 1798, since which time the Protestant church
has enjoyed privileges even
in the city of nations, the Roman empire; and according to Daniel, forty-five years will complete the whole plan of redemption.
18. The two witnesses prove that the 1260 years are ended; for it is evident that the Old and New Testament are not now hid nor kept from the common people, but have arisen from their dead state, and are now performing the office God designed they should, conveying light to the world. They are not clothed in sackcloth, but, through the missionaries of the cross, and Bible societies, are testifying to the world of Christ and his second coming.
19. The civil power of anti-Christ is destroyed, and the 1260 years, in which she was to rule over kings, and tread the church under foot, was completed in 1798, when the French army took the Pope a prisoner, and erected Italy into a republic; since which time the Pope has exercised but little or no power over kings, or the Protestant church, and she is evidently sinking by the weight of her own corruptions.
20. It is very evident that the sixth trumpet has sounded, and the 391 years will be completed in 1839, when the seventh trumpet will begin to sound, and the mystery of God will be finished, all that he hath declared to his servants the prophets. If the fall of the Eastern Empire at Constantinople was included in the sixth trumpet, which all the principal commentators, whom I have consulted, agree in, and that trumpet was prepared to sound an hour, a day, a month, and a year, which makes, according to the reckoning of time in John's prophecy, 391 years and 15 days, then the sixth trumpet is almost finished. The whole appearance strengthens the exposition of this text; for the power of the Turks has diminished more rapidly within fifteen years, than any politician, however anxious he could have been for the event, could have anticipated.
21. The opening of the sixth seal, revealed in the 6th and 7th
chapters of Revelation, was opened in the French Revolution, and
carries us through a sealing time unto the opening of the seventh
seal, which ushers us before the judgment seat of God. No one can
but that, since the revolution in France, a sealing time has passed; many have been born into the spiritual kingdom of Christ, more than has ever been known, in the same period of time, since the apostles' days. This seal, then, is evidently opened, and is a strong evidence that the book of life will soon be opened, and the dead will be judged out of the things written in the books.
22. The sixth vial was poured out about the year 1822, when the Ottoman power began to be dried up. This is an important sign that we are on the brink of the judgment day. Rev. xvi. 12, "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the waters thereof were dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." This preparation is for the last great battle, which will take place at the pouring out of the seventh vial, in the year 1839 or 40. At the pouring out of the seventh vial, a voice from the throne will pronounce the word, It is done. The kingdoms of the earth and governments of the world will be carried away, and their places not found. Every writer, of any note, will and have applied this vial to the Turkish government, and of course must acknowledge that this vial is poured out, for the power of the Turkish government is but little more than a name, and the strength of the Ottoman power dried up.
23. Another evidence is Daniel's resurrection at the end of 1335
days. This evidence is very plain and evident, for Daniel says, xii.
11-13, "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken
away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be
a thousand two hundred and ninety days." This cannot be the Jewish
sacrifice; for if so, then it must have been fulfilled about five
hundred years past; and as no event took place then which would
warrant us in so understanding it, I can see no rational objection to
understand this daily sacrifice to mean Pagan rites and sacrifices,
which was the original beast of which the abomination of desolation
was only an image, and, as I have shown in a former lecture, was to
continue six hundred and sixty-six years; and as Paul tells us, that
when he was taken out of the way, the man of sin would be revealed,
agreeing in language with Daniel. I think the proof is strong that from the taking away of Pagan worship, A. D. 508, to the end of the Papal civil power, would be 1290 years, which would end in the year 1798, and thus agree with all of John's numbers in Revelation. And then Daniel says, or the angel to Daniel, "Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days." Thus add 1335 to 508, will bring us down to the year A. D. 1843. "But go thou thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." And "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection." Then Daniel will stand in his lot, and Job will stand on the earth in the latter day.
24. Daniel's vision of 2300 days long. I have in some former lectures shown clearly that Daniel's vision concerning the four great monarchies which were or were to come, included the whole history of the world, so far as God saw fit to reveal it, down to the judgment day, and the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds. I then showed that the question was asked, how long should be this vision. The answer was given—2300 days. I then proved that days were to be counted years, by the command of God, by the example of Jacob, and by the fulfilment of a part of the vision. I then showed you when this vision began by the angel Gabriel's own declaration who was commanded to instruct Daniel into the vision. According to this instruction I showed you that 490 years were accomplished of this vision, to a day, at the crucifixion of Christ, both events happening on the 12th day of the first month, 490 years apart. And then I inquired, that if 490 years of 2300 was fulfilled when our Savior was crucified, how much of the vision remained after his death. I answered, 1810 years. I then inquired, what year after his birth that would be; and the answer was, in the year 1843. I then begged the privilege, and do now, for any person to show me any failure of proof on this point, or where, possibly, according to Scripture, there may be a failure in the calculation I have made on this vision. I have not yet, by seventeen years study, been able to discover where I might fail.
Lastly. Another sign of the last day you will find given by Paul, 1 Thess. v. 2, 3, "For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." Compare 2 Pet. ii. 17-22.
The doctrine of peace and safety, and that there is no punishment in the future state, had but few or no advocates until very recently. I am not certain but the first preacher of this soul-destroying doctrine is now living; and they now boast of their multitudes of followers and advocates. There have been, in past ages, a few who preached the doctrine of the restoration of all men, after a suitable punishment in hell; but to modern Universalists belongs the invention of preaching "peace and safety when sudden destruction cometh." If this sign is not fulfilled in the preachers of this order at this time, I ask, How can it be fulfilled? and what must the doctrine of those be who preach "peace and safety"? Surely, no human being can invent a doctrine so full of (promised) "peace and safety" to the wicked as this; and no other denomination on our globe ever have opposed the doctrine of the coming of Christ, the judgment day, and future punishments, but the modern Universalists; and if this is the doctrine that Paul had reference to in our text, as, I am fully satisfied, every candid and religious mind must and will allow, then we may reasonably suppose "sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape."
Therefore, my dear reader, I shall not, with a few closing remarks, leave you to your own reflections.
The Jews had twenty-one signs in the Scriptures given them of the
first coming and person of Jesus Christ; yet many rejected him as an
impostor. You say, if you had lived in that day, you would have
believed; and you in your hearts condemn them as a hardened race of
unbelievers; and notwithstanding their great pretence to piety, you
shall they were justly denounced by our Savior as a generation of
vipers and a band of hypocrites. But, my hearers, be careful your own
hearts do not condemn you
for your unbelief in the signs which the prophets, Christ, and the apostles have given you as tokens of his second coming and the judgment day. I have brought from the word of God twenty-five signs of his second coming, end of the world, and judgment day, and all apparently fulfilled within the age of many present, or fulfilling now before your eyes. And do you believe? Many of you profess to be pious; many of you say Lord, Lord! But do you believe his word? Are you willing to risk your life, your character, your all, on his word? or are you fearful and unbelieving? Now is the time to try men's souls. Now, if you wish to be sure, examine closely, and see if your faith will stand in the day of trial which is coming; yes, has already come, in a thousand ways, to draw you from the gospel of Christ to another new gospel, which is not the gospel of God. "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Let me give you one rule by which you may know a false doctrine. They may have many good things in their creeds, they may be very plausible in their arguments, and after all deceive you. But examine them closely, and you will find they will deny, ridicule, or try to do away some prominent doctrine of the Bible, such as the divinity of Christ, his second coming, office of the Holy Spirit, eternal punishment, doctrine of grace, election, conviction for sin, regeneration, repentance, or faith. And when you hear or see them make light or scoff at any thing of this kind in the word of God, go not after them, nor bid them God speed. "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?"
And to you, impenitent friend, God has at all times given you
warning of his approaching judgments. If you repent, believe his
word, and break off your sins by righteousness, he is faithful and
just to forgive you your sins. Why not take warning by the past? Is
there no example for you? Look at the antediluvian world, Sodom and
Gomorrah, Nineveh, Babylon, Jerusalem, and the once enlightened Asia,
now worse than in heathenish darkness. Will God punish nations, and
not individuals? This cannot be, for nations are composed of
individuals; and God is just, for he hath appointed a day in which he
will judge the world in righteousness.
"Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Will God's word fail of being accomplished? Can you show a single instance? Why not listen, then, to the warnings and admonitions, to the calls and invitations, to the examples and precepts contained therein? "Can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Will God cut off the unbelieving Pharisee for not discerning the signs of the times, and let you, with twofold more light, go free? No; how can ye escape, if you neglect this great salvation? Watch, then, "the signs of the times." I say, Watch.