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buds, after that it spreads its leaves, then its flowers, then come the sour grapes, and after them follows the ripe fruit. You see how in a little time the fruit of the trees comes to maturity. Of a truth, yet a little while, and his will shall be accomplished suddenly, the Holy Scripture itself bearing witness that he shall quickly come, and not tarry;* and the Lord shall suddenly come to his temple, even the Holy ONE whom ye look for.”+-Clem. 1 Cor. xi. 11.
The texts embodied in these words prove, that St. Clement entertained the same conceptions of divine truth, in which we are assembled together this day.
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, an illustrious martyr of the year A. D. 107, in a letter written at an advanced age, while he was waiting to be offered to the lions, said to Polycarp, "We ought to endure all things for God's sake, that he may bear with us. Be every day better than other: consider the times, and expect him who is above all time, eternal, invisible, though for our sakes made visible.”Í The injunction to consider the times, and to expect” the coming of the Lord, was not more suitable A. D. 107, than it is in this day; and in accordance with its counsel we have come together to consider the times, expecting the approach of our Lord.
Justin Martyr, in his second apology to the emperor, Antoninus Pius, A. D. 150, section 7, says, "Wherefore God delays also to make the overthrow and dissolution of all the world, that wicked angels, demons, and men should survive no longer, only on account of the seed of Christians; -since unless it were so,--the fire of judgment falling, would dissolve all things,' &c. Thus we find this eminent martyr looking for the end of the world, and for the judgment day.
A. D. 192, Clement of Alexandria, in his address to the heathen, says, “Therefore, Jesus cries aloud, personally urging us, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand; he converts men by means of fear.” In the same fear, sinners become converts at this day; and we assemble together in the same view of the kingdom at hand which Clement urged upon the people of his age.
A. D. 250, St. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, a martyr, and one of the most distinguished fathers, in commenting on the Lord's prayer, thy kingdom come, says, among other things, "We pray for the coming of that our kingdom, which has been promised to us by God, and was gained by the blood and passion of Christ. The kingdom of God, dear brethren,
* Heb. x. 37.
+ Mal. iii. 1.
* Ig. to Pol. 1. 15.
may stand for Christ himself, whom we daily wish to come, and for whose advent we pray, that it may be quickly manifested to us.” In the same spirit and hope we assemble here, praying for, and believing near, the glorious advent of our Lord in his heavenly kingdom, as St. Cyprian did, A. D. 250.
A. D. 350, St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, on the apostle's creed, says, “Our Lord Jesus Christ then comes from heaven, and he comes with glory at the end of this world, in the last day. For this world shall have an end; and this created world shall be made anew; but as to the time, let no one be curious. And venture not thou to declare when these things shall be; nor, on the other hand, abandon thyself to slumber. For he saith, 'Watch, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. But seeing that it behoved us to know the signs of the end, and whereas we are looking for Christ, therefore, that we may not be deceived and perish," &c. Precisely in the same sense with the eminent St. Cyril, of Jerusalem, we convene, here this day, "seeing it behoves us to know the signs of the end, and whereas we” also are looking for the Lord's appearing.
This Cyril was of the age of Julian the Apostate, who reviled Christians with, even to that time, expecting the King to come in his heavenly kingdom; which plainly Cyril deserved, and St. Chrysostom, and St. Jerome, and the multitude of later saints; but few Christians, however, would merit this reproach of the apostate, were he to cast it at them on the stage of life now.
We come here, my brethren and friends, to revive this apostolic doctrine, and to renew the faith of the gospel after the image of primitive Christianity.
We assemble here to awaken our own sympathies, together with the slumbering faculties of our fellow-Christians, to the doctrine of the Lord's coming, as it was held by the great reformers of the sixteenth century: not to contend with opposers, not to dispute among ourselves, not to raise the banner of a new sect; but out of every sect to come into the unity of the faith as it is in Jesus, with charity toward all, ourselves in the exercise of christian liberty, and not afraid of obloquy for the sake of our coming Lord.
One word from John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, and of Paradise Regained; a name not to be despised by the men of this age, though he entered fully into the doctrine of the Lord's coming, as we do at this day. In a prayer for England, he calls on the Lord, and concludes with saya ing, “When thou, the eternal and shortly expected King, shalt open the clouds, to judge the several kingdoms of the
shalt put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy universal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth." * * *
I have brought these things to your notice, that we may be able to meet at the very door all charges of "new light," and novelty, which unlearned men are sometimes ready to cast upon the faith and practices of the primitive church, the reformers, and many of the most renowned of the clergy and laity of England, and of our own country. The Conference sung the following hymn:
"From whence doth this union arise,
That haired is conquered by love ?
That nature and time can't remove.
Nor yet in the paradise lost;
And Jesus' dear blood it did cost.
Our hearts are united in love ;
In yonder blest mansions above.
Since we shall ere long meet again?
At distance we cannot remain.
United with angels above,
O'erwhelmed in the ocean of love,
And all his bright glory shall see,
Amen, even so let it be.''
Josiah Litch, of Eastham, occupied the remainder of the morning, enlisting the attention of the Conference to an elaborate discourse on Christ's coming in glory.
Wednesday, Oct. 14, P. M. The brethren engaged in singing, prayer, and social conference, until three o'clock, when the chairman took his seat, and the committee appointed in the morning made report, and accordingly the following appointments were made, viz:
HENRY DANA WARD, Chairman.
HENRY JONES, P. R. Russell, Secretaries.
Committee of Arrangements. J. V. HIMES, J. LITCH, JOSEPH BATES, Charles F. Stevens, STEPHEN GOODHUE.
Committee of Finance and the Roll. DANIEL MERRILL, WM. CLARK, Calvin French, NATHANIEL BILLINGS.
J. V. Himes read a letter from Bro. Miller's son, Low Hampton, Washington Co., N. Y., stating the illness of his father, which deprived the Conference of much anticipated satisfaction in his presence.
The chairman then delivered a discourse on the history of the doctrine of the millenium, showing, from records of antiquity, the progress of the doctrine, and its changes, from its origin to this day; and also its incompatibility with the faith once delivered to the apostles and saints.
Wednesday Evening, Oct. 14. Conference opened with singing and prayer, and mutual exhortation. Henry Jones presented some extracts and remarks on the Confessions of Faith and the Standards of the churches, relating to the second coming of Christ, &c., sustaining the sentiment of Mr. Ward's discourse on the millenium.
Extracts from various Church Creeds, and Remarks, communicated by Henry Jones.
REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH.
“Article 37—Judgment. Finally, we believe, according to the word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord, (which is unknown to all creatures,) is come, and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven corporally and visibly as he ascended, with great glory and majesty. * * * Therefore we expect that great day with a most ardent desire, to the end that we may fully enjoy the promises of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Rev. xxii. 20.9*
If, indeed, as this church here publicly declare, they look for or "expect that great day” of Christ's coming, &c., with a most ardent desire, then “fully” to “enjoy the promises of God,” surely they “are looking out for it at hand, rather than more ardently desiring its being a thousand years off.”
PRESBYTERIAN AND CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES. " Question. Wherein doth Christ's exaltation consist ?
“ Answer. Christ's exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day; his ascending up into heaven ; sitting on the right hand of God the Father, and in his coming to judge the world at the last day.
" Question. What do we pray for in the second petition ?" [of the Lord's prayer.]
Answer. In the second petition, which is “thy kingdom come,” we pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed, (utterly, at Christ's coming) that the king,
* R. D. Church Psalms and Confessions.
dom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened."*
In these questions and answers, found also in the Westminster Assembly's Catechism,” which has long been a doctrinal platform of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, they virtually deny the now popular doctrine of Christ's coming again to reign spiritually, or to have part of his "exaltation” in a millenium of this world, before his coming "in his kingdom to judge the world at the last day." If then, as they further say, we should pray, and pray in faith, that these great events of the kingdom of glory” at the judgment of the last day” “may be hastened;" we cannot, of course, desire, nor pray in faith for their being delayed, so long as to give time for a temporal millenium first. And though they have refrained, and very justly too, in my own view, from fixing a time, I cannot but cordially harmonize with them in their published faith on this subject, with my most earnest and daily prayers that all those things, with the very "kingdom of glory, may be hastened."
EPISCOPAL CHURCH. "Article 4. Christ did truly rise from death - he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.”+
THE APOSTLE'S CREED. “He (Christ] ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”+
NICEAN CREED.--COMPOSED A. D. 325. "He [Christ] ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom [then coming] shall have no end.”+
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
" Article 3. Christ did truly rise from the dead,- he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge the world at the last day."#
Without fixing a time, the Episcopal and Methodist churches here, also, seem expressly and purposely to exclude from their public faith the now common notion of Christ's “invisible appearing,” as it has been called, to reign spiritually during a millenium of this world, and previous to the resurrection. For, surely, they can mean no less by affirming as they do, distinctly and positively, that, having 'ascended into heaven,” he there sitteth, until he return to judge all men," or "to judge the world at the last day." Though at this much later period of time, in the fulfilment of the prophetic signs of the day at hand, our conviction of
* Presbyterian Church Confessions. # Discipline Meth. E. Church.
† Church Prayer Book.