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PREREQUISITES FOR THIS STUDY: SOURCE, NATURE, AND DE
GREE OF THE EVIDENCE: OVERTHROW OF ANTICHRISTIAN
In a preceding department of this Apology I have vindicated the doctrine of the primitive church, on the subject of the Millenial Reign, from those objections of alleged previous improbability, which prevent an equitable treatment of the scriptural evidence. In no cause is the removal of such prejudices more necessary than in this, nor more profitable when effected.
In order, however, to a clear perception and full appreciation of the evidence, not only must the mind be dispossessed of prejudices which render it hostile to the truth; it is additionally requisite, that it be positively occupied with principles which generate a disposition in its favour. This maxim our Lord has stated, in reference to the reception of his religion in general, in these noticeable words, “if any man willeth (or is willing] to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”—I shall, therefore, previously state and illustrate a few principles with which the mind must be thus pre-occupied, in order to perceive the justness of our conclusions;—principles not entirely peculiar to a millenarian spirit indeed, although characteristic of it in a superior degree.
1. The first is nothing more than the rudimental principle of all religion, the belief that this world is the property of God, and that he beholds with indignation, the conduct of all who defile and abuse it. Now, an acknowledgment of this, comparatively slight, will serve the purpose of the common faith, when it is only many hundreds or thousands of years hence, that he is imagined as interfering for judgment. A Α. God “far off” may suffice for such views, but our system demands, at every point, the belief of a God "near at hand.” We proclaim the gate of Heaven already thrown open, and the Almighty coming out of his place to do a marvellous work among the children of men; that not long shall matters be permitted to proceed as they do at present; that the world is on the eve of being revolutionized to its centre; and so near, that some, if not many of the generation now living may survive to feel the shock of this earth, when smitten by the sceptre of God.* It is obvious—many must feel it—that for the belief of all this, there is requisite a much stronger conviction of the presiding government of the Most High than is common in the professedly religious community; the great multitude so thinking of Him, as if he concerned himself but little, if at all, about the methods of governments and trade, about the spirit of literature, or the tone of manners, but left all these things to statesmen and merchants, and men of learning and fashion, to dispose of them as they please,-observing men only in their individual capacities, and having no purpose to reckon with them, till, what they call, the end of time, when the world shall have in a manner died of itself through exhaustion and old age, - without coming down in the midst of its career, to confound its institutions of crime, and sweep their apostate and rebellious upholders away in his wrath, and make all the administration of the earth his own.—Among such circumscribers of the Sovereignty of God, if circumscribe it they could, there is no hope of our cause succeeding. There is not that in them of a reverence for Jehovah's Godhead to which we can appeal in our exposition of his word; and they must be delivered over to learn the truth in that great day, when the bursting forth of the gathered storm of his vengeance shall teach it them experimentally.-But with us men who do verily believe, that the Creator is interested in the world, as his own world,-interested in the whole of its management,
* "Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind; it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return until he have done, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: IN THE LATTER DAYS ye shall consider it.” “For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now, therefore, BE YE NOT MOCKERs, lest your bands be made strong. For I have beard of the Lord God of Hosts a conSUMPTION, even determined on THE WHOLE EARTH.” Jer. xxx. and Isaiah xxviii.