Page images

tokens of his approach, that every eye, not the eye only of his own, shall see him. After having described the tribulation of the days he has mentioned, namely, the downfall of Jerusalem, with probably some allusive references to the end of this dispen. sation, he proceeds to answer the second question of his disciples, — "What shall be the sign of thy coming,” or personal appearance, and “of the end of the world,” or the Gentile dispensation? The answer to that question is contained in the sequel of the chapter.

He says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” All prophecy leads us to expect, before the close of the present dispensation, unprecedented tribulation, — national, social, ecclesiastical, political, universal. You cannot open a single prophecy in the Old Testament Scripture that relates to the end of the world, without finding passages parallel to that which we have quoted, and expressive of the same approaching catastrophes. For instance, we are told, in Jeremiah xxx. 7, “That day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Again, we read in Daniel xii. 1, 2, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people,” that is, the Jews, “shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” And if we refer to the parallel Gospel, we shall find the same facts given with other touches that identify the period more closely with the time of the end. Our Lord says there, Luke xxi. 24, “The Jews shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations”—that is their condition now: “and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles.” How long? “Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” What times? The times, time, and half a time,- the period assigned them. And then he adds, “ There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea”-the crowds, the people—"and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and glory." We might quote other passages, which establish the same point, that prior to the end of this dispen. sation all the elements of evil shall ferment, all the powers and principalities of Satan shall coalesce. His last grand stroke for a world shall be struck; his last desperate effort, linked with all that is evil, shall be made to retain a foothold on a world of which he is the usurper, but from which we know he shall be cast out unto everlasting chains, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But amongst the special signs that are to precede the immediate advent of our Lord, it is said that “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fail," as it might be rendered. This shall take place literally, as well as significantly; for wherever there is a prediction in ancient prophecy, or in the Apocalypse, we have first the literal, and next we have the moral effect of that prophecy. For instance, in the prediction of what was to take place after the pouring out of the seventh vial, you will find physical language used, having a corresponding physical fulfilment, and with a moral fulfilment also. In Rev. xvi. 17, “ And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air:" I have before said that I believe that commenced in the year 1848. He was to pour his vial of judgment into the air; that is, not upon a particular nation, but upon the whole air, i. e. all. “And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.” Then what took place ? “There were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake." This denotes literally an earthquake, but it denotes also a moral convulsion amongst the people. Now, what took place in the year 1848? The whole of Europe was shattered to its very foundations. The newspapers of the day all spoke of that unpredecented earth

quake, which reached and revolutionized the kingdoms of Europe, in comparison of which all previous ones were as nothing. “And the great city was divided into three parts." Every vial takes a time for its fulfilment; and, therefore, we expect the tripartite division of Europe, geographical, or political, or ecclesiastical, soon to take place. Nationality is a new cry, a new idea. Nations are all asking for their national rights; and the whole city is preparing to divide into what is probably its destined tripartite division, as predicted in the word of God. “And great Babylon came in remembrance before God.” The Church of Rome just began to be visited in that year, and the judgment still sits on it. True, she seems recovering; but it is with a presentiment of her coming ruin, making her last desperate, but unsuccessful effort, to subjugate the world to her sway, to have another Hildebrand in the Vatican, and to have the kings of the earth kneeling at his feet for absolution. But she will not obtain it. There is no more risk of her obtaining power over the earth again, than of the middle ages returning to Europe. But, all these things began to take place in 1848, and they will be developed more and more intensely. In 1848 we had the physical air, as well as the moral atmosphere, tainted. Cholera then broke out, and yellow fever has been ravaging other parts of the world; and medical men will tell you that diseases that used to be entirely treated after certain laws cannot now be treated after the same laws, that

a preternaturali, When our . Why

something seems to have occurred that has altered in several respects the sanitary condition of things. We have our laws morally or politically affected also.

The sun, it is said, shall be darkened. Why should not that be literal? When our Lord was crucified a preternatural darkness took place. The sun was created long before this world was created, but its office as a light-bearer began on the fourth day. Now, God has only to remove the light which the sun radiates, and all is darkness. He has only to suspend the function that the sun fulfils to the earth, and then there will be obscuration. No doubt, therefore, this will be literally fulfilled, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light,-just prior to that splendour that flashes on the world, and lights it up with unearthly and celestial brightness, there will be an obscuration and darkness like that which took place at the Crucifixion, which will give the people of God warning that the earth wanes to its close, and that a new dispensation is about to begin. On this subject I may refer you further to the following passages of Scripture. “The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine," Isa. xiii. 10. Again, “ The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously," Isa. xxiv. 23. Again, “I

« PreviousContinue »