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CHAP. III.

ON THE PROBABILITY THAT GOD WOULD VOUCH

SAFE TO HIS CHURCH AT THE APPOINTED SEASON

SOME CLEARER INTIMATION OF THE APPROACH

ING TIME OF TROUBLE.

On the supposition of its being established as a truth, clearly revealed in the Word of God, that 66

a Time of Trouble,” such as never was, pregnant with the most important results to the Church and to the world, will, in the progressive fulfilment of the Divine councils, occur; the writer would propose it as a question for serious consideration, whether, under such circumstances, it might not be reasonably expected that, as this season of unprecedented trouble should draw nigh, some further and clearer intimations of its approach would be vouchsafed; by which the Church and people of Christ, being sufficiently warned, might prepare for its arrival, and not be overtaken by it unawares. The probability in favour of such an expectation appears to him to be strong and preponderating. Previously, however, to his adducing the arguments in support of it, he will briefly explain the nature of those · further and clearer intimations of the approach of this day of trouble,' to which he alludes.

He does not mean by this expression, that any additional revelation of the Divine will will be granted, or that any miraculous or supernatural circumstances will designate the season in question. All he means is, that greater and increasing light will gradually be shed on the study of prophecy, and on those particulars which are already revealed in the Word of God: that as this remarkable era advances, the “ signs of the times” will become more distinct and prominent; that the dispensations of Providence will móre strikingly concur with the declarations of prophecy ; that past and passing events will so clearly illustrate the predictions of Scripture, and will so obviously remove out of the way many difficulties which had previously obscured this interesting and mysterious subject, as will be sufficient to enlighten the mind of the humble and watchful Christian, and to impress him with an increasing conviction that the Day of the Lord is at hand.

That intimations of such a nature would be granted at the supposed season, appears probable from the following considerations.

We are plainly taught in Scripture, that in the progress of predicted events there are times and seasons in which such intimations are vouchsafed to the church ; in which, by diligently comparing the declarations of Scripture with the signs of the times, the people of God are represented as being not only competent to discover the near approach of some predicted event, but, in some instances, as even expected and required to make such a discovery.

Daniel himself clearly perceived that the time for restoring his nation and rebuilding Jerusalem was arrived. And how did he acquire this knowledge ? Not by any immediate revelation vouchsafed to him, but, as he himself tells us, by understanding, from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, the number of

years which the Lord had prescribed for the captivity of the Jews, and for the desolations of their

Reckoning, therefore, seventy years from the time when Jehoiachim, with the chief of the people, had been carried captive, he perceived that the term of the captivity was on the point of being accomplished ; and sought of God, in earnest prayer and supplication, the immediate fulfilment of the promise.

Our Saviour himself reproved the Jews for their insensibility and perverseness in not dis

city. *

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cerning “ the signs of the times ;” a reproof which surely implied, that if they would attentively have looked at these signs, and have compared the passing events which they witnessed, with the Scriptures, which they professed to believe, they would not have been ignorant of the time in which they were living; they would have known that it was the time of the Messiah, and that He, whom they were about to reject, was indeed the Christ : 6. How is it that

ye do not discern this time ?” *

Thus again, in his predictions respecting the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the dangers to which his disciples would, from that event, be exposed, having warned them of these things, and intimated to them several particulars which would previously intervene, and which, by occurring in the manner related, would serve to them as beacons and signs, He finally adds, “ When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the Holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand,) then let them which be in Judæa fee into the mountains.” + The fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy in the invasion of the precincts of Jerusalem by Titus, was to be the signal to the Christians of their flight. Unless, therefore, they had applied the prophecy to this event, at the time in which it actually occurred, it would have been no signal to them, nor could our Lord's admonition, so far as they were concerned, have been of any avail. The church in after ages, indeed, might have recognised the accomplishment of the Prophecy, and so might have benefited by the additional confirmation thus afforded to the truth of Christianity : but the generation of Christians, for whom our Lord chiefly designed this admonition, and for whose benefit it was intended, would have perished, notwithstanding, together with the unbelieving Jews, because they did not discern those “signs of the times,” which it was expressly meant that they should see and interpret aright.

* Luke xii. 56.

+ Matt. xxiv. 15, 16.

In these several instances it is plain from the Scriptures themselves, that cases sometimes occur, in which the application of prophecy to passing events, is intimately connected with the peace and safety, and even with the duty, of those who witness such events. Though “the times and seasons” are not generally discoverable by us, till the fulfilment of the predicted occurrences shall have shown that they are passed; yet there are certain seasons, in which it has pleased the Lord, for wise and gracious purposes, to grant to his Church such clear

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