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I verily believe it is, we may then safely conclude that he, as well as the Father and the Son, is the true and real God; those high titles before mentioned being applied to him in as full and unlimited a sense as to either of the other persons in the Godhead; for it cannot be showed that any one of these names or titles of God was ever given in such a manner, and with such circumstances, to any being below the true and living God.
To God the Father, God the Son,
SECOND ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH.
Dear Brother Benjamin,
§ 1. Agreeably to my promise in a former letter, (p. 178,) I now proceed to consider the second advent of Christ.
In entering on this subject, my feelings are very different from those with which I wrote my former letters: I can only compare them to the different feelings of a person, who, having traveled for a considerable time in a plain and pleasant road, where every by-path was supplied with a direction-post to prevent him from turning out of the right way, and his progress known by a succession of regular milestones, and where he was frequently met by fellow-passengers, but is now entering an extensive forest, where few have traveled before him, and most of them had missed their way without the supply of a proper map, but wholly left to be directed by now and then a marked tree; how different must be his feelings, how trembling his steps, how slow his progress, and how great his anxiety lest he also should miss his way and be lost in a labyrinth, out of which he may not be able to extricate himself without danger! Such are my feelings, and such my fears.
In my former letters I explained prophecies by plain and attested facts which have already come to pass ; now I am to describe future events by past prophecies. This is a task in which many have labored in vain, and spent their strength for naught; for it is allowed by all, that prophecies were never intended to be fully understood until near the time of their accomplishment, and sometimes not till after the events had taken place. The remarkable circumstances of Messiah's birth, his life and character, his sufferings and death, his resurrection and ascension, the destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of our nation, &c. all were clearly foretold, as has been fully shown in my former letters, yet few understood them till after their accomplishment. The real design of prophecy is, that when they are fulfilled we might have additional evidence of the truth of the sacred Scripture, admit the wisdom and goodness of the author, and thereby our faith and confidence might be strengthened, that those yet unfulfilled will surely be accomplished in God's own time.
. $ 2. Under these considerations I assure you, my dear Benjamin, that, were it not for the promise I made to consider the second advent of the Messiah, and your expectation excited thereby, I should gladly omit it. For, after much research, and close examination of what has been written on both sides of the question, I find myself in the same predicament as he who said, “ Before I entered college I thought I might fill the professor's chair; after a year's study I found I had been mistaken, but still thought I might sup. ply the place of an assistant teacher; after the second year I was sure I was only fit to be a scholar; but at the close of the third year I was so convinced of my ignorance that I considered myself unfit to be a student.” Just so, my dear Benjamin, the more I consider the conflicting and opposite opinions of writers on the subject, the more reluctant I feel 10 enter on the discussion; for “who is to decide when doclors disagree ?"
That Jesus Christ shall come again the second time is expressly taught in the Scriptures, and disputed by none; but in defining the nature and designs of his coming, they widely differ. Some understand by it his last appearance unto the judgment day, while others are of opinion that he will come a second time at the commencement of the millennium, and a third time to judgment.
Again: those who are agreed that Christ will appear. at the commencement of the millennium, are disagreed with respect to the nature of his appearance, whether it is to be understood literally or figuratively. The same division of sentiment prevails with respect to the nature of the first resurrection and the millennium itself. With these interesting and important, but difficult subjects, several other topics are intimately connected, which have equally divided the opinions and sentiments of the most learned and pious men of different denominations. The restoration of our beloved nation, the overturning of the Ottoman empire, the destruction of the Western Antichrist, &c. &c. are events which must take place before the second coming of Christ, whether that be to judgment or to commence the millennium, whether it be understood literally or figuratively.
$ 3. It is difficult indeed, if not altogether impossible, to fix the exact time or year when these events are to take place; for, although certain periods of time are mentioned in the sacred Scriptures, yet as we are not sure when these periods commenced, we cannot of course be certain when they will end.
To lay before you, my dear Benjamin, all that has been written on this subject, would not only be inconsistent with the nature of our epistolary correspondence, but would also fill too many volumes. Perhaps the following extracts from Bishop Newton and the Rev. George Stanley Faber, on the Prophecies, are the most judicious as well as the most concise.
4. Bishop Newton, on the book of the Revelation to St. John, chapter 21, says, “ It appears, then, that this antichristian power was to arise in the latter times of the Roman empire, after an end should be put to the imperial power, and after the empire should be divided into ten kingdoms; and it is not only foretold when it should prevail, but moreover how long it should prevail. Here we cannot but observe, that the very same period of time is prefixed for its continuance both by Daniel and by St. John. Wonderful is the consent and harmony between these inspired writers, as in other circumstances of the prophecy, so particularly in this. In Daniel, 7: 25,. The little horn' was to wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws ;' as it is said expressly that they shall be given into his hand, until a time and times, and the dividing of time;' or as the same thing is expressed in another place, Daniel, 12:17, ‘for a time, times, and a half.' In the Revelation it is said of the beast, 13:5, 'to whom, in like manner, it was given to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, that power also was given unto him to continue forty and two months; and the holy city,' 11:2, the Gentiles should tread under foot forty and two months; and
the two witnesses,' ver. 3, 'should prophecy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth;k, and the woman, the true church of Christ, who fled into the wilderness from persecution, 12:6, 14, should be fed and nourished there .a.thousand two hundred and threescore days,' or, as it is otherwise expressed in the same chapter, 'for a time, and times, and half a time.' Now, all these numbers you will find, upon computation, to be the same, and each of them to signify one thousand two hundred and sixty years. For a time is a year, and a time and times, and the dividing of time, or half a time, are three years and a half, and three years and a half are forty-two months, and fortytwo months are twelve hundred and sixty