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Time and Signs of the Advent.
The time of the Second Advent, and the signs that shall announce its approach, come now to be considered; and in tracing out this part of the subject, it will be necessary to recapitulate some of the statements that have been already made. It is only by collecting into one focus the scattered rays of light, which present themselves in different parts of Scripture, that we shall be enabled to form any just opinion, either concerning the time which is ordained for the manifestation of these wonders, or concerning the signs of their approach, or concerning the events which may be expected.
It is written, that the day of the Lord shall come as a snare upon all them, that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. In that tremendous day, 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 Jesus Christ. That such a day shall come certainly, is one of the most positive revelations of Holy Writ; and that it shall come suddenly, and in an hour that
men think not, is declared with equal plainness. In the days of his flesh, the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man." But still he set before them clear and certain signs, which should indicate its near approach. The great apostle of the Gentiles assures the children of the light, that that day shall not overtake them as a thief; and the prophet Danel intimates, that in the latter day the wise shall understand-and who are the wise, but they whom the Spirit teacheth?
As far as can now be discovered, the prophet Daniel alone affords the chronological date of the appointed time. An accurate understanding of the historical and ceremonial types, would, in all probability, bring with it a revelation of this mystery; but hitherto the Spirit of revelation has shone but faintly upon this portion of the Sacred Volume; and, as things at present stand, Daniel is the only guide to the date. That prophet, in his important prophecy, which occupies his three last chapters, mentions three periods of time, viz. 1260 years, 1290 years, and 1335 years, as before pointed out at p. 110, and at one or other of these periods, the coming of Messiah in glory might be looked for: for the prophet speaks of it, as a time, when "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting
life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.' And it is revealed in other places, that the resurrection does not take place, till the Lord Jesus cometh, The period of 1260 years, is again mentioned in the Book of Revelations; but, as it has already been suggested, that probably this period expired in the year 1789, and as Messiah has not yet appeared, this date comes not here to be considered, except as it serves to fix the other periods, which in fact are additions to the 1260 years. The prophet Daniel, in his he-goat, declares that the
vision of the ram and
cleansing of the sanctuary shall take place at the
expiration of 2300 years, a time which is mentioned only in that prophecy. This period must
necessarily terminate with one of those already mentioned, viz. the 1290 or 1335 years; for, till the Lord cometh, the sanctuary cannot be cleansed, inasmuch as none but Michael, the great Prince, who standeth up for his people, even the Deliverer who cometh out of Zion, shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: and it is not until after the Angel of the covenant hath come suddenly to his temple, and hath sat there as a refiner's fire, to purify the sons of Levi, that they can offer an offering in righteousness. (See Rom. xi. 26, and Malachi iii. 1-3. Thus it is seen that two periods are spoken of, having each one common termination in the second coming of Messiah.
The statement at p. 71, shews that the expiration of the 1290 years, may be the date of the second advent. The calculation of this period was there taken from the decree of Justinian, in the year 529, which brings the 1260 years, to the year of the French Revolution, (1789,) to which 30 years are to be added, making 1819. The 2300 years of Daniel have been spoken of at p. 84, and it was suggested, that it might be shewn, that they also may terminate in the year 1819. If this should be the true date, events must ere long so reveal it. It cannot, however, but be admitted, that July 1819 was an important epoch in the history of this country, and, consequently, in the history of Christendom; and it is possible, that strange and unlooked for changes may have their commencement from that date.-See Chap. xxvi.
The date being thus disposed of, the signs and circumstances which shall denote the coming of Messiah, are in the next place to be considered. Scripture says, there shall be signs in the heavenly bodies, distress and perplexity amongst the nations, and mens' hearts failing them for fear, and for looking for the things that are coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. These seem the immediate fore-runners, or, perhaps, attendants upon the Lord's presence. But our Lord speaks of
other signs which precede, and which are termed "the beginnings of sorrows;" and they are wars, and rumours of wars, nation rising against nation, and famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. These beginnings of sorrows pass away, or have an intermission, before the immediate signs of his presence are manifested; for another Scripture declares, that at a time "when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." And the destruction thus spoken of, is at the Lord's immediate coming. Again it is written, like as in the days of Noab, they shall be eating and drinking, and marrying, and giving in marriage. And again, like as in the days of Lot, they shall be eating and drinking, and buying and selling, and planting and building. These manifestations of ease and enjoyment could hardly be going forward, at the same time with the judgments before spoken of ; and therefore it may be conjectured, that the first or preliminary judgments will be stayed for a short moment, so that these signs also may be brought to pass; and that in the midst of these things, the final judgments will supervene, accompanying or introducing the personal appearance of Messiah. Without presuming to speculate upon future events, or to declare the Lord's times and seasons; it cannot, surely, be inexpedient to ask, whether the events of the last few