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thief, did not imply that it should not overtake such suddenly, then we might contend that when it is said that “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,” it does not imply that it will come suddenly upon any. If it denotes suddenness in the one case, it would seem to denote an expectation of the event previous to its time in the other case. The apostle gives as a reason why there was no need of his writing to them of the times and seasons of the coming of the Lord, because they knew perfectly “ that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” He then explains upon whom it will so come. “For when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them;" and he adds, " and they shall not escape.” The apostle then excepts the brethren from its so coming; thus he seems to assert that it will only come “as a thief in the night,” upon those who say “ Peace and safety ;” which cry was to be a sign to christians that they might know when that day is near; and thus not be overtaken as a thief. Although they did not know the time of the end, they yet were to have this with other signs and Revelations given them by our Lord, as evidences of its approach.
“From this undeniable ignorance of the apostles as to the time in question,” he infers i, " an obscurity in the prophecies on this point, and 2, our own ignorance ;" see p. 276.
We have a right to infer that the propheces were obscure to them on this point, at that time, but from
the prophecies, we should also infer that this was owing to the times in which they lived, and not to the prophecies. When the prophecy of Daniel was completed he was told to "shut up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end :" then follows, “Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased.” That this " sealing up” of the words, denoted, that till the time of the end, the words thus sealed up were not to be fully understood, is evident from what follows. Daniel says he heard and understood not, and then asked, “O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things ? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel ; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." All therefore who lived before “ the time of the end,” will, as Daniel did, “understand not." The apostles, therefore, and all who lived in that age of the world, were necessarily ignorant of the full import of that which was thus sealed. But is it to be always thus sealed ? It will be to the wicked, but not to the righteous. Daniel is told “the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked” shall understand, but the pious shall understand." The period of time when they shall understand, must necessarily be when these prophecies are unsealed, at“ the time of the end " Therefore, in the time of our Savior, no one could have known the day or the hour, and it was not for them to know the times or the seasons: but this obscurity to them must have been owing to the fact that it was “ closed up and sealed," and not to any obscurity in the prophecies. Therefore
we cannot infer from their ignorance, that those who live when the seal is removed, must necessarily be ignorant of that which was then “ closed up and sealed.”
The assertion of our Savior, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man," &c, could not denote that no man ever will know, for then it would contradict the previous verses. He had just assured them, that “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven;" and then should follow the coming of the Son of Man. " Now," said Qur Savior, “learn 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 THE DOOPS.” And then, as if to inform them how near it would be after these signs were seen, he limited it within “ this generaiion.” “Verily I say unto you, This generation,” (the generation that shall see these signs,) “shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
According to Luke, Christ says of these signs, “ And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” If any confidence can be placed in the words of our Savior, then, surely, when there have been seen the very signs which he predicted should precede his coming, and in the very manner we need not be ignorant of the approach of that event, so that it should come upon us as a thief in the night. If the pious are to be ignorant of the coming of Christ, his coming on them unawares would not be likely to be held out as an evil which they should avoid. In Luke xxi. 34, our Savior warns his followers to “take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." He then, after declaring that it shall come as a snare on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth, calls upon us, verse 36, to “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” If the righteous are to be overtak. en suddenly, why are they commanded to pray that they may escape such a calamity ?
Again we find that Christ's coming suddenly,is an evil which is threatened those who are not prepared for his coming, Luke xii. 45, 46. “ But and if that servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the men-servants, and maidens, and to eat and to drink, and to be drunken; the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, & will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." In Rev. iii. 3, the same is threatened those that will not watch. “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come."
We are commanded to live" like unto men that wait for their Lord,” and those “ whom the Lord
when he cometh shall find watching,” are said to be “ blessed.” To watch, and to wait for an event, implies a readiness, and a continued expectation of it; and how can an event be expected, unless it is to be preceded by signs by which those who watcii may know that is near ?
In the parable of the ten virgins in Matt. xxv. before the Bridegroom came, there was a cry made, “ Behold the Bridegroom cometh ;” and we are assured by our Savior, that when he comes, the Kingdom of heaven shall be likened to this parable. This could not be fulfiled, if the righteous with the wicked are to be overiaken as a thief. It does not therefore necessarily follow, that if we live at the time of the end, we are to infer from the ignorance of the apostles, a like ignorance on our part.
" That it is not for us to foreknow the time," &c., is argued
5. “From the mistakes that have been made on this sulyject.” p. 278.
All mistakes that have been made on this subject previous to the time of the end, are accounted for by the sealed condition of these predictions. And even if since then, mistakes have been made, it does not follow that we cannot know that this day is near, when have been seen the signs by which we might know that it is near even at the doors.
He says, p. 279. “But let it be more particularly noticed, that they who now predict the precise time of the end, are already proved to be mistaken as to the events which they say are to precede it. The papal power, in their scheine, was to be broken in