« הקודםהמשך »
ADDRESS TO THE CLERGY.
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN,—Your station and the relation you hold to society, invests you with a power over the minds of men, on all subjects connected with religion, such as no other class of men can possess. If truly called of God to the work in which you are engaged, you are placed as watchmen on the walls of Zion, to hear the word at the mouth of the Lord and warn the people from him. This relation to God and man rolls on you an immense weight of responsibility; to you the community look for warning when danger is near, for correction when they err, and instruction in the way of truth and righteousness."
Hence, whenever any subject comes up for discussion, vitally affecting the spiritual and eternal interests of mankind, they instinctively look to their spiritual guide for counsel, and are disposed to rely on his decisions. But, unless the subject, in all its bearings and aspects, is familiar to him, how can he give them the needful instruc
tion? If he attempts to instruct at all, under such circumstances, he will be very likely to darken counsel by words without knowledge. Thus, the blind leading the blind, both will be likely to fall into the ditch. It must, therefore, be the duty of every minister of the gospel to acquaint himself with such subjects, that he may act understandingly in relation to them.
The subject named at the head of this address is of such a character. For, “if it is true, it is tremendously true.” It cannot be a matter of indifference whether the kingdom of God is a temporal or eternal kingdom, whether the time is near at hand or far distant. I am aware that it is often said, " it matters not when it comes, if we are only prepared for it.” ' Very true; but are all men prepared for it? Are even a majority of mankind prepared for it? It is this want of preparation which makes it important that the note of alarm should be sounded. Does it matter when men die, if they are but prepared for death? Certainly not. . But where is the true minister of the Lord Jesus, who does not think it important, frequently, to remind his hearers of death; and also to press on them its nearness? Yet the writers of the New Testament have not half as frequently, nor half as earnestly, pressed on us the nearness and certainty of death, as of the judgment.
The question is now fairly before the Christian community ; “Does the Bible teach the near approach of the glorious, everlasting kingdom of God on earth ?" And before the excitement on it can subside, it must be thoroughly investigated.
And why should not every Christian minister come boldly up to the work, and take up the subject in a candid and unprejudiced manner?
Will it be said, “ There are some subjects which carry absurdity on their face, so legibly inscribed, as to render it unnecessary to examine them to draw an inference concerning their merits; and that the subject in question is among the number?” Wherein does the absurdity consist ? Is it in endeavoring to fix upon the nature of the kingdom of God on earth, as taught in the Bible ? Or is it in endeavoring to find the time fixed for the commencement of the prophetic periods of the Bible, the termination of which is to introduce that glorious state? It certainly cannot be in either of these ; for each of them has occupied the minds of the greatest and best of men in all ages.
Yet this is all that these pages profess to do; and a true answer to these two questions is all that is sought.
Finally, the question resolves itself into this: Is the millennium of the Scriptures to be in a temporal, or an eternal state ? If in the former, then the theory advocated in these pages must fall. But if in the latter, then the objection as to the time vanishes. For the warmest opponents of this theory admit the prophetic period, by which we arrive at the time, to begin and end at the same time contended for in these sheets. They believe the termination of the 2300 days of Dan. viii. 14, will introduce a temporal millennium, and the literal restoration of the Jews; but here it is contended that no such events as these are to be looked for; but that the event is the establishment of a glorious and everlasting kingdom of God on earth, at the resurrection of the just. There can, therefore, be no more absurdity in saying that the glorious kingdom of God will be established at a given time, than there is in say. ing that the period will terminate at that time, but in another event. For the Scriptures must decide what the event is; and it cannot be absurd to examine them in reference to this interesting and important question. Brethren, look At this subject. But there are some other objections which frequently come up, and exert an in. fluence on the public mind. Some of them shall now be examined.
1. It is asked,-Does not Christ say, Matt. xxiv. 36, “ But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my
Father only ?" True, he does. But what has that text to do with the case in hand ? I do not nor have I ever done it-attempt to determine the day or the hour of the Son of Man's coming. LET THIS POINT BE DISTINCTLY UNDERSTOOD. I believe the glorious appearing of the Savior will be between the fall of the Ottoman empire, which will probably take place this year, and the termination of 1843; and that by the end of that year all the scenes of judgment and trouble will be passed, and, in the expressive language of inspiration, “the sanctuary will be cleansed.” But at what point of time between those periods Christ will make his appearance, whether in 1841-2, or 3, I know not. The signs of the times, as foretold in the Bible, will indicate His near approach, but for the precise time we are commanded to watch. .
Let us, then, examine the above text in the light of these remarks. Christ had just uttered a prediction respecting his coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, &c; also, he had related a great variety of signs, which should precede his coming and indicate his near approach. To illustrate his meaning, he related a parable of the fig-tree. “When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at