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of instruction imparted by the one, any more than the
other? It is sheer, base hypocrisy' Brethren, my prayer is, may God avert from us this tremendous charge But, in order to this, we must avoid the sin of that presumptuous, heaven-daring Infidelity, which refuses to receive the truth of God, unless attested by redundant evidence. This, as it was the fatal error, so it was the heinous sin, of the ancient Pharisees and Sadducees, who, tempting Christ, desired him that he would show them a Sign from heaven; “whereas Christ uniformly taught that the works (miracles) which he did in his Father's name,” as “the Signs of the times, ’’ in unison with all that the Prophets had spoken concerning him, bore ample testimony to the truth of his Messiahship, which Messiahship, or the Deity veiled in human flesh, constituted the foundation of all the moral phenomena peculiar to that age. Nor is this all. We, “upon whom the ends of the world are come,” are admonished by the errors of the most eminent saints in these premises in all ages, to guard most sedulously against incredulity on the one hand, and idle curiosity on the other. Of incredulity, as it respects the faithfulness and power of God, in the accomplishment of ALL that he hath spoken; as illustrated in the conduct of Abraham, who, when God said to him, “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it,” i.e., the land of Canaan, replied, “Lord God,
1. Cor. x. 11.
whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” Also in the conduct of Sarah, whose scornful laugh at the promise of a son in her old age, though she vainly attempted to conceal it, betrayed the presiding conviction of her mind that the “thing” was “too hard for the Lord.” Of idle curiosity, as seen in the prying inquisitiveness into the veiled mysteries of God, of the Midian shepherd, Moses, when his eye, being attracted by the brilliancy of the burning but unconsumed bush, said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” ” These, with other and similar instances which might be adduced in illustration of the above, we say, were errors of the great and good: and though not damnable, yet furnish occasions for admonition and rebuke. But, incredulity in the faithfulness and power of God to perform all that he hath spoken; and idle curiosity respecting His veiled mysteries, constitute, preeminently, the errors, as a Pharisaical infidelity does the sin, of this remarkable age. While, as in primitive times, this adulterous generation, when addressed upon the general truths of the Gospel, demand, as a condition of their belief, “a sign from heaven,” “ or that “one arise from the dead;” “ the great body of those “who profess and call themselves Christians,” either betray a disposition to tread upon ground where angels dare not venture, or, when addressed upon the subject of those events which are now transpiring, or which are about to transpire on the present theatre of time, ask, “How can these things be 2" | For instance—When we speak of the final drying up of the mystic Euphrates, or the total extinction of the Ottoman Empire, as soon to take place.—When we advert to the appearance of “the Man of Sin, the son of perdition”* who, as a real person, is to head the last and greatest antichristian confederacy, as soon to be revealed—When we speak of the restoration, after a long and painful exile, of the Jewish nation to the promised landof theirfathers,” asnighat hand—Finally, and above all, when we call the attention to the second, personal, pre-millenial, glorious advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, “accompanied by his risen and glorified saints, * upon the completion of the Jewish restoration ; and that for the express purpose of “dashing to pieces like a potter's vessel”" their, and our, and his enemies, and to set up his “tabernacle among men” by the establishment of that “kingdom which is to break down and destroy all others, and which is to stand forever;”—* I say, when these and the like truths, as we receive them, and honestly believe to be taught in the word of God, are addressed to their understanding, professors of religion “with one consent,” and almost en masse, rise up and charge us with bringing “strange things to their ears.” "
1. Gen. xv. 7, 8. 2. Gen. xviii, 10–15 3. Exod. iii. 1–3. 4. Matt. xvi, 1.
1. John iii. 9. 2. 2 Thess. ii. 3. 3. Ezek. xxxviii. 14–28. 4. Acts i. 10, 11. 5. 1 Thess. iv. 15–18, 6. Isa. xxx. 14. 7. Rev. xxi. 3. 8. Dan. ii. 44.
9. Acts xvii. 20.
In order, therefore, to disabuse the minds of Christians of an error, the practical tendency of which, in the study of the prophecies whether of the Old or New Testament, tends to prove so highly derogatory to the honor and glory of the God of the prophets, by perverting, yea, defeating the very ends for which the predictions as uttered by them respectively were designed, we deem it important not only, but essential to a proper understanding of the subject, that we here institute a distinction between prophecy and the “signs” which accompany them. “To prophecy, is to look forward and tell the events of years to come, even as history tells the events of years that are past.” Hence history is the interpreter of prophecy. “Signs” are the harbingers of events pointed out by prophecy. Our next remark is, that to predict future events, and to define the signs which are to indicate their fulfilment, is the exclusive province of the Almighty. He ALONE “knows the end from the beginning.” “Signs,” we observe further, are designed to herald the fulfilment of predicted events as near at hand. This point we shall illustrate as we advance. We now ask, why this arrangement of “signs” as the precursors of future events, with the predictions which announce them 2 Are they to be looked upon as an unmeaning ordinance of heaven? Then the Almighty is trifling with his creatures. Nay, I venture to affirm that there is not one in this intelligent assembly tonight, who, when pointed to any one of the fulfilled prophecies connected with which was a “sign,” as a prelude of its accomplishment, would not consider it
1. McNeil's Second Advent, p. 49.
an insult to his understanding if called upon to close
his eyes against it. Tell such an one that the “sign” means nothing, and he will tell you, and rightly too, that the prediction means nothing. This result, however, contemplates the subject in its direct and individual application to the heart and conscience in the sight of God, and it relates to a single fulfilled prediction, and its accompanying sign or signs. The point whence arises hesitancy, doubt, and unbelief in these premises is, when you spread out the great chart of unfulfilled prophecy as a whole, marking out what portions are now in course of fulfilment, and what that yet remains to be fulfilled, as indicated by their respective sign or signs. Yet it is at this point that it is objected, both in vérbal and in written forms, that prophecy, singly or collectively, can in no sense be understood, until the event or events comprehended therein verify their import by their accomplishment. Now, in furnishing a reply to this objection, it will be serviceable to state, 1. That every prediction comprehends within itself the double characteristic of judgment and of mercy. Of judgment, for the contemnors of God's law; of mercy, for those who delight in its observance. Hence, 2. Corresponding with this truth is the fact, that every prediction proclaims alike to all, a warning and