« PreviousContinue »
speedily to be realized. And having, as he trusts, obtained more correct ideas of the time and purpose of the Saviour's Return, in the hope that it may of service to others, he has been induced to endeavour to present, in a regular and connected form, part of that chain of evidence which has brought full conviction to his own mind.
Deeply important as the subject undoubtedly is, it has not, in modern times at least, obtained that consideration to which it is entitled ; and most of the Magazines and Reviews, even of a religious character, which have at all adverted to the late efforts for its revival, have made ridicule their test of truth, and—often without the shadow of argument as their warrant-have poured upon its defenders unmeasured abuse. In palliation of the outrage, it is sometimes alleged to have been provoked by the tone of haughty superciliousness assumed by Millenarians, Truth does, indeed, often suffer from the indiscretions of her friends, but there can be little doubt that still more frequently are her interests injured by an implicit deference to human authority,—the overpowering influence of which renders alike difficult and irksome any material deviation from established maxims and opinions. The latter evil has perhaps operated most banefully upon the interests of the doctrine in question, although not a few who have stood forward in its defence, have neither been overawed by that enslaving " fear of man" which“ bringeth a snare, nor provoked to bitterness by. that rancorous hostility with which they have been assailed. The display, by either
party of a spirit of wrathfulness towards those who differ in opinion, is únworthy of the cause of truth, and hy alienating affection must tend to the confirmation of error, on whomsoever this is justly charged.
In the following remarks, the author has stated with firmness his convictions, but it has been his sincere desire to avoid whatever 'has the appearance of dogmatism or arrogance-a spirit ill calculated to win converts to any truth, but which would be especially unbecoming in him on this interesting subject. The consciousness of his incapacity to treat aright so important a doctrine--the fact that in many of the past ages of the Church, as well as in the present day, the great proportion of pious, eminent, and faithful ministers of Christ, have been, and are opposed to the views he entertains and desires to advocate--and the remembrance that till recently he regarded these opinions as destitute of that sanction which alone can give them à claim úpon our faith-all of these considerations present reasons why, in defending this doctrine, he should be willing to give to others a reason of the hope that is in him with meekness and fear. **? As intimately connected with the doctrine of our Lord's advent, a selection of Scripture passages relative to the Restoration of Israel and their future glory has been prefixed; and for the same reason, and on account of our interest in them, some passages have also been appended, in proof of the judgments which shall precede that happy time. The whole subject is thus brought before the
reader, who will be better enabled to determine on its general bearing and mutual support, Conceiving this to be a subject which admits not of aid from the fancies of men, the author has confined himself exclusively to the SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE; and reference is made to the
passages produced, that the legitimacy of their application may be more easily ascertained. The design has been to submit a Compend of Proof, making Scripture its own interpreter, rather than to enter elaborately into the discussion of any one point. An opportunity is thus afforded of observing how fully the doctrine of Christ's premillennial advent, and all its concomitants, harmonizes with the manifold and varied statements of Revealed Truth. To some it might have added to the strength of the argument, to have presented extracts from the primitive Fathers. It were easy to prove that these doctrines were maintained by all orthodox Christians during the first two centuries of the Church, and generally to a much later period; although then, as now, difference of opinion existed relative to certain portions of Prophecy.* To have done justice, however, to this part of
A few extracts are given by Bishop Newton in his Dissertations on Prophecy, and, in an excellent Reply to various criticisms which appeared on the course of Lectures, delivered in Edinburgh, May 1828, by the Rev. Edward Irying; together with a statement and defence of the scriptural doctrine of the second advent of Christ.“ For a Vindication of the Primitive Fathers, see the remarks on Dr. Hamilton's work, in the appendix to a very candid and temper: ate letter to the editor of the Edinburgh Theological Magazine, by William Cuninghame, Esq. of Lainshaw, published in reply to a review of his former valuable critical pamphlet on this subject.
tbe inquiry would have occupied more space than was consistent with the present design. Besides, if the doctrines themselves have been proved to be Scriptural, any auxiliary to establish their claim upon our faith is unnecessary; and if they had been found destitute of this foundation, extrinsic aid must have proved inefficient for their support.
The substance of part of the following sheets was written in the summer of 1828, during the author's residence in Edinburgh, as a reply to the first of a series of articles which at that time appeared in the Christian Instructor; but the communication not having been acknowledged, he conceived that it might be useful to re-arrange, correct, and enlarge it for separate publication. In prosecuting this design, it has been judged expedient, as preserving the continuity of the general argument, and for greater condensation, to throw into the form of Notes such of the remarks as have been retained which more particularly apply to that author. Notes have also been subjoined on such of the arguments of others as seemed to bear against those advanced. In this, no disrespect is designed towards men who may have been eminently useful by their other labours. The author feels pain in being compelled to differ from any who are entitled to respect; and especially does he regret the necessity of publicly opposing the venerable Mr. Mason, from whose writings his earliest acquaintance with Unfulfilled Prophecy was derived, and to whose occasional pulpit ministrations he has been much indebted. A con. viction of imperative duty, and a fear of the injury which the interests of truth might sustain from the omission, could alone have induced him to insert these Remarks.
The author has only to add, that he had determined to publish anonymously, and should still have adhered to his resolution, but from an apprehension that it might have been construed into an unchristian fear of openly avowing his faith in any part of divine truth, when derided or opposed-an imputation to which he would not willingly be subjected, remembering our Lord's declaration, when formerly upon the earth, “whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels.” May He be pleased to bless this attempt, by rendering it useful in leading some to a more careful examination of the sublime doctrines it is designed to establish.
JAMES A. BEGG.., Paisley, March 26th, 1829.