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own, nor dictate in matters of conscience for our brethren, nor seek to demolish their organizations, nor build new ones of our own; but simply to express our convictions like Christians, with the reasons for entertaining them which have persuaded us to understand the word and promises, the prophecies and the gospel, of our Lord, as the first Christians, the primitive ages of the church, and the profoundly learned and intelligent reformers, have unanimously done, in the faith and hope that the Lord will "come quickly," "in his glory,” to fulfil all his promises in the resurrection of the dead.
As believers in this glorious and yet "terrible day of the Lord" "at hand,” it does not become us to judge, censure, or condemn others who see not as we do in regard to this subject, nor to show our zeal for the faith by personally denouncing scoffers and gainsa yers. We desire to be hunble before the Lord, to defer all judgment to that tribunal, before which we ourselves must shortly stand; and mindful of his goodness who rescued us from the snare of delusion, in which we were taken once in common with the rest of our brethren, we would be charitable toward all; and especially patient with opposers and revilers, who substitute abuse for argument, and pervert our opinions before they venture to try them by the law and the testimony. We seek not the honor of this world, nor do we fear its frown; but in the meek and quiet spirit of the gospel, we would walk in all the ordinances of our respective churches blameless, and exhibit in the purity of our lives the holiness and power of the doctrine we profess, in the hope of the appearing of our Lord in his heavenly kingdom.
Though in some of the less important views of this momentous subject we are not ourselves agreed, particularly in regard to fixing the year of Christ's second advent, yet we are unanimously agreed and established in this allabsorbing point, that the coming of the Lord to judge the world is now specially "nigh at hand."
We are also agreed and firmly persuaded, that the popular theory of a thousand years, or more, of the spiritual and invisible reign of Christ "in this present evil world," where death reigns unto the coming of the Lord in his glory, is altogether unscriptural, and naturally tending to comfort sinners in their evil ways, and to dishearten the faithful; inasmuch as it takes away heavenly and eternal promises from the latter, only to convert them to the temporal uso of the former, should they live, as they hope, to witness and enjoy millenial bliss in the conversion of themselves, and of this world.
We are also agreed, that at the very commencement of the millenium the Lord will come in the glory of his father, and all the saints with him, and that the sinners then remaining alive and ungodly will be slain by the sword of the Lord, or "taken” and “cast alive, with the beast and the false prophet, into a lake of fire burning with brimstone,"* instead of being all converted to the obedience of the gospel.
Again, we are agreed and harmonize with the published creed of the Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, together with the Cambridge Platform of the Congregational church, and the Lutheran and the Roman Catholic churches, in maintaining that Christ's second and only coming now will be "to judge the world at the last day."
The popular creed, that he is coming to reign invisibly and spiritually in this world, first, at least, a thousand years, is so modern that it has never gained admission into the public creed or confession of any denomination in Christendom; on the contrary, the Lutheran confession of Augsburg, and the English confession and articles of faith, published A. D. 1552, under the hand of the eminent divines who were martyred in the reign of Queen Mary, publicly brand the doctrine of a kingdom for the pious in this world, prior to the resurrection, as “a Judaizing notion, and they explicitly “condemn those who circulate it.” * * *
We do not "condemn those who circulate the Judaizing notion;" it is the eminent reformers of Germany and England, who have done it three centuries ago, in times that tried the souls of men, and purified the faith of the churches. We condemn no man; nor yet is it reasonable that we should be condemned for calling the attention of the churches to one of the first principles of the oracles of God, and the attention of the children, our brethren, to the wise counsel and severe reproof of our fathers, the great reformers.
We are not of those who sow discord among brethren, who withdraw from the fellowship of the churches, who rail at the office of the ministry, and triumph in the exposure of the errors of a secular and a postate church, and who count themselves holier than others, or wiser than their fellows. The gracious Lord has opened to us wondrous things in his word, whereof we are glad, and in view of which we rejoice with trembling. We reverently bless his name, and we offer these things, with the right hand of our christian fellowship and union, to all disciples of our common Lord, of every sect and denomination, praying them, by the love of the cru
* Rev. xix. 11-20.
cified Jesus, to regard "the promise of his coming," and to cultivate "the love of his appearing,” and to sanctify themselves in view of his approaching with power and great glory; although they conscientiously differ from us in minor points of faith, or reject some of the peculiarities which exist in individuals of this Conference.
We do not seek to excite the prejudices of our fellow-men, or to join with those who mock at sin, or who scoff at the word of promise of the great Jehovah, or who lightly esteem the offices and ordinances of the church, or who empty of their power the threatenings of the holy law, or who count the blood of atonement a useless thing, or who refuse to worship and honor the Son of God, even as they honor the Father; nor do we refuse any of these, or others of divers faith, whether Roman or Protestant, who receive and heartily embrace the doctrine of the Lord's coming in his kingdom : for reason and experience unite to teach, in the words of the apostle, that “every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it;" and the vivid apprehension of its approach tries and consumes the wood, and hay, and stubble, among our opinions, and we all become, by gentle necessity, the lambs of one flock, and are led into one fold, under the hand of the chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls.
We appeal to the sectarian standards, to history, and to the primitive churches before the falling away;" but we rely mainly on the holy oracles of divine revelation for the support of our views, convinced that the Old Testament alone also is able to make us wise through faith unto salvation. We deeply feel that the success of the gospel of the kingdom at hand depends on our faithful use of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; and that the secular interpretation of the Old Testament is fearfully heretical which considers it as being silent on the subject of Christ's coming to judgment, to raise the dead, and to dispense everlasting rewards.
The Bible is its own interpreter, independent of human commentaries; spiritual things are compared with spiritual; and the Old Testament is paraphrased in the New.
A common error is, to interpret a large proportion of the spiritual and everlasting things of the Old Testament, together with the words "everlasting” and “forever" when joined with divine promises and threatenings, as though they were limited to scenes and events of a secular and temporal nature; which is an error against the holiness and truth of God, annihilating to the power of his word, and dangerous to the souls of men. The Most High in his word always speaks of infinite and everlasting things literally,
and should by such terms be taken to mean everlasting things, and not something of infinitely less importance than what the words clearly imply.
In fine, we purpose not to confer with flesh and blood in the promulgation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, coming in his kingdom, but watching thereunto with all prayer and supplication, we desire to persuade men to repent and be converted, that the body of the elect may be accomplished, and the Lord may hasten his coming. Such are the surpassing riches of his grace, that sinful men are permitted to * love his appearing,' and to "look for” it with this confidence, that when he "shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory," "fashioned like unto his glorious body." The heart of the humble believer is drawn out to meet the coming of our Lord with holy joy, and fruits of benevolence and love, as the bosom which feels the love of a mortal beats with lively emotion and active exertion, in hopes of the loved one's speedy return.
Dear Brethren, inasmuch as we know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh," shall we not one and all "give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip,” and that day come upon us unawares? We cannot be ourselves prepared too well, or too soon, to meet the Lord at his coming, and to stand, with the assembled universe, before his awful bar; "knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ; but he that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he has done; and there is no respect of persons.” Millions of our fellow-mortals slumber over these tremendous considerations, because they regard them as not very near; and millions of professors say openly, by their lives, and by their lips, "peace and safety," which is a sure index of the apostle, pointing to the very time in which, “then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.'
Let us, then, ourselves, "no longer sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober ; let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on this armor of light, for” most surely now "the night is far spent, and the day is at hand." “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
all." HENRY DANA WARD, Chairman. HENRY JONES,
Secretaries. P. R. RUSSELL,
« THE KINGDOM OF GOD” TO “COME” “ ON EARTH”
BY HENRY JONES,
Delivered before the Second Advent Convention, at the Broadway Tabernacle
New York, Oct. 26th and 27th, 1841.
“ And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."-Dan. ii. 44.
from their pre
NOTHING is more important to be well understood in the sure word of prophecy than the things of God's kingdom ; yet it is a melancholy fact, that the subject is now involved in much darkness, even among the masters in Israel, as appears sent multiplied conflicting opinions concerning it. By many, it is understood that the “ kingdom of God” to be “ set up," as mentioned in our text, has already been set up—that it is standing now on earth ; while some consider it to be the Gospel dispensation, or the Christian church set up, or both; or the Spirit of Christ reigning in the heart of his saints; or that these several explanations should be given it in its various connexions. The present number of persons is also great, who look for the more full setting “ up" of this kingdom of God on earth, in the yet much more abundant spiritual reign of Christ in the hearts of all nations during the period of at least a thousand years, or millennium, before his coming personally to judge the nations at his bar. According to these explanations of the prophecies of Christ's kingdom, we have often heard of his “spiritual coming”-his “spiritual kingdom," and his “spiritual reign.” But as none of these explanations of the kingdom are to be found in the sacred writings, none of them will now be admitted as correct, while
THE POSITION To be maintained is rather, that the “ kingdom" to be “set up, as foretold in the text and other prophecies, is the everlasting