Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
WHEN we take a view of the trials, pains, afflictions, persecutions, poverty, and distress, which the people of God suffer in this world, we are almost led to exclaim with the apostle, "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable." But no; we will not complain; for to suffer the short period of threescore years and ten, at most, will only give a greater zest to the glory which shall follow at the appearing of our Lord and Savior the great God and Jesus Christ. I know the world are taunting us with the inquiry, "Where is the promise of his coming? for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things remain as they were, even from the creation of the world;" for they will pretend to be ignorant (as the apostle Peter expresses himself of the deluge) that the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished; and still more do they pretend to be ignorant, that the same earth is in like manner to be destroyed by fire, "reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." 2Peter iii. 7. Also, my brethren, there are some even among us, who "are spots in your feasts of charity, feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth; twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy (or glorious appearing) of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 12-21. Or, as Peter says, 2Pet. iii. 12, "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God." And again, Paul says, in Heb. ix. 28, "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." And Paul further saith, to his Philippian brethren, "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
Having thus proved that the apostles directed our hope to the coming of Christ for the fulfilment of all our trials and persecution, and the completion of our faith, I shall now take up our subject in the following order:--I. I shall endeavor to prove that it is yet future; viz., the coming of Christ, spoken of in the text. II. The certainty of his coming. III. The object of his coming.
I. We are, according to our design, to show that the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken of in the text, is yet future.
Some teach us that he came at the destruction of Jerusalem, and quote to the 24th chapter of Matthew as proof. Let us examine their evidence. As Jesus went out of the temple, his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple, where Christ delivered his memorable prophecy, which was exactly fulfilled in little more than thirty-six years afterwards, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down."
And it appears that, afterwards, as Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, having, as may reasonably be supposed, been ruminating in their minds, or conversing among themselves, on the prophecy, and had, perhaps, supposed that no power on earth could destroy those strong buildings, and concluded that, when this was accomplished, it would be the judgment-day. They therefore inquire of him, "saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?" that is, what he had prophesied of; "and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" They might not have intended to ask more than one question; yet they did ask three, and Christ answered them accordingly. He had before told them of the destruction of Jerusalem, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses; he cautions them against being deceived with false Christs, and not to be troubled at wars and rumors of wars,--and yet Jerusalem was destroyed in the first war of any note after this prophecy,--and then says plainly, "The end is not yet." Now, if this end was the destruction of Jerusalem, then where are those wars, spoken of by Christ? This cannot mean any thing less than the end of the world. From the 7th to the 14th verse, inclusive, he gives a prophetic history of the trials, afflictions, and persecutions of his people, and also of the success of the gospel immediately previous to the end, and says, "Then shall the end come."
Now, it must be evident that this cannot mean the end of Jerusalem, because, if so, he that endured unto the end was to be saved from all the troubles which Christ had been speaking of; and it was not true that the disciples of Christ did not suffer afterwards the same things which Christ said they would. From the 15th to the 28th verse, Christ instructs his disciples into their duty during the siege of Jerusalem, and also down to the coming of the Son of Man. This, you will see, must mean Christ in person; because neither the Holy Spirit nor Father is any where called Son of Man. He likewise speaks of the signs which should follow the destruction of Jerusalem. From the 29th to the 35th verse, inclusive, Christ explains the signs in the heavens and on the earth immediately after the tribulation of the people of God, which had been spoken of as the common lot of all his followers, and which he had promised to shorten for the elect's sake, and of his coming in the clouds with power and great glory; the gathering of his elect from the four winds of heaven; gives his disciples the parable of the fig tree, as an illustration of the end; and then says to his disciples, "Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled; heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Here is the great stumbling-block to many. Christ is talking about his elect, his children, and his generation; and not, as some will have it, about the generations that then lived on the earth; for they did undoubtedly pass off, a large share of them; for it was about thirty-six years before the destruction of Jerusalem. But his kingdom has never been taken from the earth. Although they have been hunted from one part of the earth to another; although they have been driven into caves and dens of mountains; have been slain, burnt, sawn asunder; have wandered as pilgrims and strangers on the earth;--yet the "blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church;" and Christ has had, and will have, a people on the earth, until his second coming. 1 Peter ii. 9: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," &c. The Psalmist says, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." Psalm xxii. 30. I humbly believe that Christ has quoted the sentiment contained in the 102d Psalm, 25th to last verse: "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee."
Here we see the Psalmist has expressed the same sentiment that I understand Christ to have given in these two verses, which I conclude is the proper explanation. And then the parables which follow in the remainder of the 24th and 25th chapters, are easily understood as having reference to the end of the world; and in that way will exactly compare. See the 31st verse of the 25th chapter: "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations," &c. This verse was not fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, for the "Son of Man" was not seen in the clouds with power and great glory; and yet the words are, "every eye shall see him;" and as sudden and as visible "as the lightning, that shineth from the east even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." Can this have passed, and the history of the world have been silent? No. Could all nations be gathered before him, and there be divided, the righteous from the wicked, and the one part sent to everlasting punishment, while the other is received to life eternal, and none know it? No. Were the elect gathered from the four winds of heaven at the destruction of Jerusalem? No; they were commanded to flee to the mountains; and history says they did leave that devoted city when the Romans encompassed it with their armies. Then, could the prophecies contained in these chapters have been fulfilled, and the world remain ignorant of some of the most important events? I answer, No. Then the "Son of Man" did not come to the destruction of Jerusalem. If he did, where is the evidence? None, none, not a particle. But if he did come to the destruction of Jerusalem, then it must have been his second coming; for Paul says, Heb. ix. 28, "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Can this be true if he came to Jerusalem? The passage certainly implies that his people would have no more sin, or afterwards would be "without sin." Experience teaches us to the contrary. Again it is said, 1 Thes. iv. 16, 17, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall arise first; then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Who saw this great transaction at Jerusalem? Were there no witnesses? Yes, the apostle John lived many years after this, and wrote his Gospel, his Epistles, and his Revelation, long after the destruction of Jerusalem. And what does he testify? In his Gospel, 14th chapter, 3d verse, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also." Again, 28th and 29th verses, "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe." Again, 1 John ii. 28, "And now, little children, abide in him, that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." And iii. 2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." And, again, in Rev. i. 7, "Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him; and they also which pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth, shall wail because of him." Many more places might be mentioned in John's testimony, but not one word that he had already come again, as some supposed. Let this, then, suffice to prove, that the "glorious appearing," spoken of in our text, is still future.
And now we will examine some of the evidence of the certainty of his coming, which is our second proposition.
II. The certainty of it:
1st. Because the ancient prophets all spake of it. Jude tells us that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints, &c. Balaam was constrained to admit, "Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city," plainly referring to the judgment-day; for he says, "Alas! who shall live when God doth this?" See Numbers xxiv. 17-23. And Moses as plainly refers to this day in Deut. xxxii. 43, "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful to his land and to his people." David says, Psalm l. 3, 4, "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him; he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, (that he may judge his people.") And Isa. xl. 5, "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." In the 39th chapter of Ezekiel, you will see the same day of judgment prophesied of in a clear and plain manner. In Dan. vii. 9, 10, "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Joel iii. 14, "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." Zeph. i. 14, "The great day of the Lord is near; it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord; the mighty men shall cry there bitterly." Zech. xiv. 5, "And the Lord thy God shall come, and all the saints with thee." Mal. iv. 2, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves in the stall." And Christ himself says, in Matt. xvi. 27, "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." The angels that stood by the disciples at the time Jesus ascended up, and a cloud received him out of their sight, said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Let us take particular notice of the phrase this same Jesus, and compare with other parallel passages, as, our God shall come, and it will prove to our satisfaction that Jesus Christ is God, as well as man, and we may have strong consolation for our hope in his appearing, for his promises can never fail. "Heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his word shall fail." Also take notice of the words "like manner," which agree with the often expressed sentence, "He shall come in the clouds of heaven." We shall be led to admire the general harmony of the Scriptures, and the agreement of the prophets in their descriptions of future events. Again, Christ says to the church of Philadelphia, Rev. iii. 11, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast thou hast, that no man take thy crown." "For yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry," Heb. x. 37. And will not the evidence I have brought from the word of God be sufficient to prove the certainty of his future coming? And if I should argue the tradition of nations that never saw the word of God, the conviction on the mind of men generally, that there must be a day of retribution; could I open the breast of the reader, and show the thundering of your conscience; yes, could I see and expose the tremblings and failings of heart, which you have had, while you have been looking with fear for those things that are coming on the earth--of what use would it be? Would you believe it if I could raise a dead friend who would tell you to prepare to meet your God? No. If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither would they though one rose from the dead. How foolish, then, would it be for me to try to prove in any other manner what God has revealed or promised, than by the means which God has appointed. By his word you will be judged; and if this condemns you now, (unless you become reconciled,) it will condemn you hereafter.
III. The object of his coming.
1st. He comes to raise and gather his saints to him in the air. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive; but every man in his own order--Christ the first fruit, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming," 1 Cor. xv. 22, 23. Again, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord," 1 Thess. iv. 14-17. "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him," 2 Thess. ii. 1. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death shall have no power," Rev. xx. 6. In Psalms we have the same account of the gathering of his people. "Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," Psalm l. 5. Again, see Isaiah lxvi. 18, "It shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory." "For thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day," Ezekiel xxxiv. 11, 12.
And now I refer you to one more passage, and then pass on. "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, (that is, die,) but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." These texts, to which I have called your attention, will apply only to the people of God, or those who are in Christ Jesus. I have, therefore, only been proving to you the object of Christ's coming, as it respects his people. And I think I have plainly proved that when Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, he will raise the righteous dead, change the righteous living, gather them from among all nations, where they have been scattered during the ages of persecution and trial. "in the dark and cloudy day," and receive them unto himself in the air, when they will ever be with the Lord.--I will,
2dly, Show that the wicked will be destroyed from the earth by fire, and the world cleansed from the curse of sin by the same means, and prepared for the reception of the New Jerusalem state, or the glorious reign of Christ with his people. That the wicked will be destroyed by fire, at his appearing, we prove by the following texts: Deut. xxxii. 22, "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth, with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains." 2 Samuel xxii. 9, 10, 13, "There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens and came down, and darkness was under his feet. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled." Psalm xcvii. 2, 3, "Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about." Isa. lxvi. 15, 16, "For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many." Dan. vii. 11, "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." Again, Nahum i. 5, "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt at his presence; yea, the world and all that dwell therein." Habakkuk iii. 3-5, "God came from Teman, (south) and the Holy One from Mount Paran, (from glory.) Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise: and his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand; and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood and measured the earth; he beheld and drove asunder the nations, and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting." Also, Malachi iv. 1, "For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Matt. iii. 12, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt. xiii. 30, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn." 40, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt, so shall it be in the end of the world." 49th verse, "So shall it be in the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just." Again, Paul to the church of the Thessalonians writes, "And to you who are troubled, rest with us; when 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 our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." 2 Peter iii. 10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up." Rev. xviii. 8, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day--death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." These passages are but a part of the word of God which prove the destruction of the wicked--of the anti-Christian beast--and the cleansing of the world by fire. Yet if Scripture proof can be sufficient, surely I have brought enough; and where that can have no bearing on the mind of men, how vain should I be to search the archives of natural philosophy to give you more evidence! for He who hath all wisdom in heaven and in earth, and who knows what is in the mind of man, hath used the best arguments, the most persuasive means (I had like to have said) in the power of a God to use; and indeed he says, "What could I have done more than I have done for my vineyard." He has taught us by his own word, by the mouth of his prophets, and by examples: witness his word on Mount Sinai, where the people heard his voice and saw the fire; witness all the declarations of the prophets which I have read; witness Jesus Christ himself, in the parable of the tares and wheat, and the harvest; witness, also, the destruction of the old world by water, and Sodom and Gomorrah by fire; Jerusalem by famine, sword, and fire. These are all set forth as samples to warn us of the approaching judgment. And yet who believes the report? Who is willing to examine the evidences--to reason candidly and to reflect seriously on these things? Who among us puts implicit confidence in the word of God, especially in that which is unfulfilled? Any may believe in so much as has been accomplished; but where is the virtue in such faith? Where is the blessedness of our hope in the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ? If we are "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," we shall examine the word of God faithfully; we shall compare scripture with scripture; we shall take notice of the signs which Christ has given us of his coming. That the day may not overtake us as a thief, we should live with a steady reference to that day, and rejoice more and more as we see the day approaching.
3d. I will now give some of the evidences concerning the glorious reign which must follow his coming. The earth, being cleansed by fire, will, like the phœnix, be revived from its own ashes. The destruction of the wicked, the end of death, sin banished, it will lighten the world of a load of crime which has made it reel to and fro like a drunkard; the internal fires will have spent their force on all combustible matter, and have gone out; volcanoes will cease; earthquakes, tornadoes, and whirlwinds can no more be experienced or needed, for the cause is gone; the earth or the heavens can no more be shaken, "that those things that cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire," Heb. xii.
27-29. Then, when this earth shall become new, by being cleansed and purified, the New Jerusalem will "come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God," Rev. xxi. 2, 3. "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the Holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God," 10th verse. "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." "And I saw thrones and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark in their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years; but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished."
Much more evidence might be brought to prove the personal reign of Jesus Christ with his people; but this is enough to prove the glorious and personal reign after the resurrection; but few dispute it. But, say some, do you not believe in a spiritual reign of a thousand years before the resurrection? I answer, I believe in a reign of grace, by the influence of the divine Spirit, for more than 1800 years past; but when you speak of a thousand years, I suppose you mean the same time that I call the glorious reign after the resurrection of the righteous, and before the resurrection of the wicked. I know of no spiritual reign, mentioned in the word of God, and especially of that duration. We argue that there cannot be a reign of peace and glory until the world is cleansed from all wickedness, Satan is chained, and righteousness fill our world; nor until "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ," even the anti-Christian beast will not be destroyed, (according to the texts we have already quoted,) until they are destroyed by "the brightness of his appearing." All those passages which speak of this happy period of rest to the people of God, or which in any manner allude to it, describe it as being after the resurrection of the saints, or after righteousness fills the earth, and after the anti-Christian beast is destroyed. And even our text more than implies that we shall not realize any great or glorious results from our hope, or collectively in a body the church will not receive any important deliverance until the "glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Is this true? I say the passages of Scripture already named fix it beyond a doubt. And any one who will examine the scripture for himself, will find that the second coming of Christ is the point to which Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the apostles directed their disciples, as the termination of their trials, persecutions, and afflictions; and Jesus Christ says, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." I say, I can find nothing in the word of God to warrant me to believe that we ought to look for or expect a happier period than we now enjoy, until he who has promised to come shall come the second time without sin unto salvation, and cleanse us, the world, and make all things new. These things are abundantly proved in the unerring word of God. And now, Christians, if these things are so, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the day of God, "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ"? Then let our conversation be in heaven, from whence we expect our Savior, and stir up each other's pure minds by way of remembrance of these things; for the time of the promise draweth nigh, when he will come and receive us to himself, that we may be with him. How necessary, my brethren, we should examine the word of God diligently; see if it does not give some indications, some signs, by which we may know the "Son of Man is near, even at the door," and our "blessed hope" is about to be realized in the "glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ." If he comes and finds us, or some of us, in this lukewarm state, hardly having looked into his word, and, making our want of talents an excuse, have neglected to trim our lamps, and have been very spare in holy conversation, and are crying peace and safety when sudden destruction cometh, and perhaps have sneeringly mocked and laughingly ridiculed the idea of Christ being near at the door, and perhaps have joined the infidel and unbeliever in their unholy remarks on this subject, and although we have heard the midnight cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh," yet we treat it with neglect or disdain, or some of us, perhaps, with reproach,--I ask, if the Lord of such servants come and find us so doing, what will he do with us? He will come in an hour that we think not, and cut us off, and appoint our portion among hypocrites and unbelievers, where shall be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But we will suppose that he will not come in so short a time as your speaker believes; still what do I ask of you, my brethren? Nothing but what Jesus Christ and the apostles required 1800 years ago. I ask you to compare these views with the Bible. Is this wrong? No. I ask you for holy conversation. Is this wrong? No. I ask you for heavenly-mindedness. Is this wrong? No, no. I ask you to stir up each other's pure minds, to make improvement on your one talent if no more; to come out of this cold and lukewarm state; to trim your lamps and be ready. Are these requirements wrong? Certainly not; no, no. I ask you again to compare scripture with scripture; to read the prophets; to stop your revilings; to take warning by the old world; to flee from sin and the wrath which is to come; to hide yourselves in Christ, until the indignation be over and past; to look "for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Is this wrong? Then be the wrong on my head.
And now, my impenitent friends, what say you? "We say, 'You know nothing about it.'" Do you believe the old world was deluged? "Why, yes." What makes you believe it? "Because our philosophers tell us there are a great many signs remaining of the flood, and we can believe them." And are there no signs of the near approach of the Judgment Day? What say the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ? Are they not equal to your philosophers? Examine your Bibles, and see; weigh well the evidence; your eternal happiness, the salvation of your immortal souls, may depend on your decision. But what say you more? "We say, 'You were very unwise to fix on the year 1843, or sooner, for this day to come; for it will not come; and then you will be ashamed." And I hope I may be able, by the grace of God, to repent. But what if it does come? You cannot with any propriety say positively it will not come, for you make no pretence to divination. But I say, What if it does come? Where will you be? No space then for repentance. No, no--too late, too late; the harvest is over and past, the summer is gone, the door is shut, and your soul is not saved. Therefore it can do you no harm to hear, and believe, and do those things which God requires of you, and which you think you would do, if you knew he would appear. First, I ask you to repent of your sins. Would this be right? Yes. Next, I ask you to believe in God. Is this right? Yes. And I ask you to be reconciled to his will, love his law, forsake sin, love holiness, practise his precepts, obey his commands. Would these things be right? Yes, yes. And last of all, and not least, I ask you to "look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Amen.