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MATT. xxIv. 3.
“And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, tell us, when shall these things be 2 And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
The subject of this Lecture, and the passage as just read, and upon which the lecture is founded, is, The Age of the World, as educed from the chronological records of Scripture, Historic and Prophetic, from the creation of man to the final “restitution of all things.”
As preliminary to the elucidation of this subject, we considered it as indispensable, that we meet, and use our endeavors to remove, those principles antagonistic to the sentiment which it involves. The antagonistic principles named by us were, those of the Atheist, who asserts an ETERNITY as well to the origin as to the existence of the world: of the Antiquarian, who claims a vastly greater antiquity to this world than that set forth in Scripture: and of the Infidel, who, even though you demonstrate the age of the world by the Scriptures, yet will deny their authenticity, and consequently their authority.
Against the system of Atheism, whether in its Christianized form, as advocated by Grotius and Watabulus; or in its undisguised form, whether after the model of Aristotle or Spinoza, we argued a “beginming” of existence to this universe, a small part of which we inhabit, in the following manner: We assumed as self-evident the following propositions, viz: I exist – I am not the author of my existence—Hence, I must be a created being. And, the being who gave me existence, must be self-derived, or, like me, derive his existence from another. If the latter, then I argue about him as about myself, and so continue to argue, till I arrive at that being who does exist of himself, and who, consequently, must have always so existed. This Being I call, the ETERNAL God. I then transfer this argument to the material universe, thus: the creation of this universe argues design — design argues intelligence. And, the Atheist admits the existence of mind, of intellect, as well as of matter. Mind, intellect, however, is superior to matter. But, matter, of itself, cannot give existence to matter: how then, to mind? And, as my own existence, and that of the universe, argues design, and design, intelligence, all must have originated from the will of the Supreme, Infinite Intelligence, the ETERNAL GoD. Against the system of the Antiquarian, we asserted an antecedent antiquity in behalf of the Bible as the text book of Chronology, by the following arguments, WIZ :-First, the coincidence of ancient profane with sacred history— Second. The same, of the ancient systems of philosophy; all of which, until perverted by the Greeks,
were founded upon the knowledge which they derived, first, from the oral traditions of the ante-diluvian Patriarchs, and second, from the written records of the Mosaic cosmogony—and, Third. The utter failure of all the philosophers of Greece, from the period of Hesiod, Homer, Linus, &c., even Aristotle not excepted, to originate any new system, which, so far from proving the fallacy of the old traditionary philosophy, could not even give a reasonable account of the first principles of which it was constructed. Finally, Fourth. That what was true of the ancient historians and philosophers, as to the source (viz. tradition) whence they derived their knowledge, was true also of Moses; unless, indeed, he wrote by direct divine inspiration—and if he did not thus write, as a few generations conduct us back to the first man, ADAM, as he could not account for the manner of his own existence, and that of the universe which existed before him, these facts must have been to him matters of direct divine inspiration. Against the system of the Infidel, we argued the authenticity of the Scriptures as bearing the names of their respective authors, including that of Moses, upon the very same ground of evidence which he admits as conclusive in every similar inquiry; e. g., that they have been handed down to us uncontradicted and undisputed — that they were quoted by each other, and by successive writers—because such a literary fraud was not only improbable, but impossible, there being no motive of interest adequate to induce it.
This reasoning, taken as a whole, brought us to the following conclusion: — that the Bible is not only the best, but that it is the only source (and, if the above reasoning be correct, that source is infallible) whence we are to derive information respecting the chronology of the world. With the ground they prepared before us, the preceding, and all other objections to the contrary notwithstanding, we now proceed in this first lecture to assume the two following propositions, viz.: I. THAT GoD IN HIS INFINITE wisDom HAs AsSIGNED To THE world which we INHABIT, BOTH IN RELATION TO ITS PHYSICAL AND MORAL CONSTITUTION, A LIMITED AND DEFINITE DURATION; and, II. THAT THIS LIMITED AND DEFINITE DURATION OF THE world, As COMPREHENDED UNDER. THREE succEssive DISPENSATIONS, PATRIARCHAL, JEwish, AND CHRISTIAN, Is A SUBJECT FULLY REvEALED To GoD's PEOPLE IN HIS word. “And as He,” (Jesus) “sat on the Mount of Olives,” (which rose on the east of Jerusalem, in three peaks, the most northerly of which is the highest point above the city,) “the disciples came unto him. privately,” (because He had said to them on a previous occasion * “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them [i.e. that are without] it is not given, &c.) “Saying, tell ws,” (as our divinely omniscient teacher who “knowest all things,” “ yea, even “the end from the begin