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My object in undertaking this little work has been chiefly two-fold. First-In reference to those who, either from prejudiced alarm, excited by the very words “ Second Advent,” (as if all discussion, connected with this event, was necessarily associated with heritical or enthusiastic opinions, or from any other cause, have not hitherto sufficiently directed their thoughts to the all-important subject, of which this volume treats. It has been my desire to induce such individuals to examine, in an unprejudiced and prayerful spirit, the testimony of Scripture on the point, and to ascertain, from the careful and devout perusal of its pages, what degree of prominence is given to the exhibition of the Second Advent of the Redeemer, in the development of the Gospel-scheme, and what practical purposes it is there represented as being designed to promote.
I cannot but feel convinced that the result of such an investigation, if carried on in a teachable frame of mind, and with humble dependence on the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, will be the persuasion, that this glorious event has a station of peculiar prominence, and authority, assigned to it, in the scriptural exhibition of the Gospel-that it is intended to subserve the most important practical results, connected both with the believer's personal sanctification, and the spiritual welfare of the church of Christ—and that it possesses, as a stimulant to Christian watchfulness, patience, faithfulness, and zeal, in running his heavenward race, some considerations of a character peculiarly powerful, and peculiarly attractive to a Christian's heart.
The second object, I have had in view, has been to offer a few admonitory hints, in (I trust) an humble and affectionate spirit, to those faithful followers of the adorable Redeemer who, while agreeing in their views of every doctrine essential to salvation, and in their grateful desire to glorify Him who is precious to their souls, beyond all price, are constrained to differ in their interpretation of what is usually designated the millennaran scheme.
It has been my anxious wish, to warn them of some dangers, to which an excessive partiality for, or prejudice against, this scheme seems peculiarly to expose them; to persuade them to dwell rather on the essential points, of primary importance, connected with the Saviour's glory, the church's welfare, and their own salvation, about which they are all agreed, than on those disputable points, of such subordinate importance, about which they differ; and to concentrate their thoughts and energies, (so far as the subject of unfulfilled prophecy is concerned,) on the exhibition and enforcement of those grand general views, in connection with the second coming of the Son of God—the magnificent prospects of blessedness and glory, which it unfolds to the eye of faith-the animating motives to Christian devotedness and zeal, which it supplies--and the sublime incentives to holiness of heart and life, which it enforces, with such peculiar solemnity of appeal, in which all the children of God are alike interested, and, as it were, identified together by this joint-participation of such precious promises, and such glorious hopes. While, therefore, they are united by such a bond of union, assuredly they should not allow any difference of opinion on any speculative subject, in which the glory of their common Saviour is not vitally engaged, to interrupt for a moment that harmony of Christian love, and Christian communion, which ought ever to subsist among all the members of the family of the redeemed.
Such being the object of this volume, it is manifest, that it will not supply to any zealous partizan, on either side of the muchcontroverted millennarian question, the smallest materials for obtaining a triumph over an opponent, as I have not attempted to establish any peculiar theory or system ; but rather endeavoured to remind each of the two parties, how much, (on a subject, that seems purposely involved, as to its precise import, in great obscurity,) has been urged, both in the way of sound reasoning, and scriptural testimony, by the advocates of the system, from which they dissent*--and what reason, therefore, there is to state their own opinions with caution and humility, and to treat those of their opponents with candour and respect.
I have also been desirous to persuade them ever to remember, that the practical influences, which the realized anticipation of “the appearing of the great God our Saviour" is intended to exercise over the believer's heart, and life, whether in the way of sanctification or comfort, are, to a very great extent, indepen
See a list of the most valuable works on the subject of unfulfilled pro. phecy in Bickersteth's “ Practical Guide to the Prophecies.”
dent of any peculiar views, as to the disputed points of the millennarian scheme. And that therefore assuredly all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, in sincerity and truth, however constrained conscientiously to differ on these points, both may and ought to agree in habitually fixing their thoughts and desires on the glorious event itself-cherishing its fondly-anticipated approach in their abiding recollection, as a most powerful stimulant to unceasing vigilance, unwearied exertion, and uncompromising faithfulness, in their Divine Master's cause; and, amidst all their trials and tribulations, looking forward with patient expectation, and devout joy, to the arrival of that day, which will be to them, and all they love in Christ, the day of the full consummation of all their brightest hopes of the unutterable blessedness, which has been purchassd for them, at the costly price of their Redeemer's infinitely-precious blood; and which, in all the fulness of its glory, will be bestowed upon them in the day of His appearing!
I cannot conclude, without earnestly entreating the fervent prayers of every Christian reader of these pages, that the divine blessing may rest upon this humble effort to promote the object, that should ever be dearest to the Christian's heart. May that Omnipotent Spirit, who can put honor on the weakest instrumentality, vouchsafe, in His infinite condescension, to bless this little volume, as the means of leading even one careless sinner to scek for safety, peace, and happiness, where alone they can be found, beneath the shadow of a Saviour's cross; and advancing even one of His own faithful followers in more abiding watchfulness, and spiritual preparedness for the day of His manifestation, and more abundant meetness for the inheritance among the saints in light. May He bless it as the means of inducing every child of God, who peruses it, habitually to try the lawfulness of every pursuit, in which he is engagedi
, and every recreation in which he indulges, by the simple but searching test, which the second coming of the Son of God supplies, for assuredly a safer or more scriptural one could not be adopted; and how immediately and incontestably would the unsuitableness of being engrossed by worldly pursuits, or being a partaker of worldly amusements, be made manifest, by the application of this test; for what child of God would wish to be surprised, in the midst of such scenes, by the sudden appearing of the Lord from heaven! May this little volume also lead such of its readers as have hitherto neglected the subject, to the sober, serious, prayerful study of that most important portion of God's revealed word, unfulfilled prophecy, that they may be admonished by its warnings, cheered by its promises, and gladdened by the glorious prospects for the church of Christ which it unfolds! May the Spirit also vouchsafe to bless this work as the means of persuading any of His believing people, whom difference of opinion, on millennarian subjects, has in the least degree alienated from each other, to lay aside all those unkindly feelings, which are so peculiarly unbecoming in the servants of such a Master, as the loving Saviour of mankind; and to walk together in love, treading in His footsteps, and maintaining, amidst all their diversities of speculative judgment in minor points, the unity of the Spirit, as fellow-heirs of the same glorious inheritance, in the bond of brotherly affection, and heavenly peace. Should so great an honour be put on this little work, even in a single instance, while I shall most unfeignedly rejoice, at having been made instrumental towards the accomplishment of such an object, to Him, to whom undividedly they are due, as the power and the blessing belong exclusively to Him, be ascribed, with the deepest gratitude, all the glory, and all the praise !