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An Address to the Public, and Especially the Clergy

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    ADDRESS TO THE CLERGY

    Dearly Beloved Brethren,-Your station and the relation you hold to society, invests you with a power over the minds of men, on all subjects connected with religion, such as no other class of men can possess. If truly called of God to the work in which you are engaged, you are placed as watchmen on the walls of Zion, to hear the word at the mouth of the Lord and warn the people from him. This relation to God and man rolls on you an immense weight of responsibility; to you the community look for warning when danger is near, for correction when they err, and instruction In the way of truth and righteousness.APEC 9.1

    Hence, whenever any subject comes up for discussion, vitally affecting the spiritual and eternal interests of mankind, they instinctively look to their spiritual guide for counsel, and are disposed to rely on his decisions. But, unless the subject, in all its bearings and aspects, is familiar to him, how can he give them the needful instruction? If he attempts to instruct at all, under such circumstances, he will be very likely to darken counsel by words without knowledge. Thus, the blind leading the blind, both will be likely to fall into the ditch. It must, therefore, be the duty of every minister of the gospel to acquaint himself with such subjects, that he may act understandingly in relation to them.APEC 9.2

    The subject named at the head of this address is of such a character. For, “if it is true, it is tremendously true.” It cannot be a matter of indifference whether the kingdom of God is a temporal or eternal kingdom, whether the time is near at hand or far distant. I am aware that it is often said, “it matters not when it comes, if we are only prepared for it? Are even a majority of mankind prepared for it? It is this want of preparation which makes it important that the note of alarm should be sounded. Does it matter when men die, if they are but prepared for death? Certainly not. But where is the true minister of the Lord Jesus, who does not think it important, frequently, to remind his hearers of death; and also to press on them its nearness? Yet the writers of the New Testament have not half as frequently, nor half as earnestly, pressed on us the nearness and certainty of death, as of the judgment.APEC 10.1

    The question is now fairly before the Christian community;—“Does the Bible teach the near approach of the glorious, everlasting kingdom of God on earth?” And before the excitement on it can subside, it must be thoroughly investigated.APEC 11.1

    And why should not every Christian minister come boldly up to the work, and take up the subject in a candid and unprejudiced manner?APEC 11.2

    Will it be said, “There are some subjects which carry absurdity on their face, so legibly inscribed, as to render it unnecessary to examine them to draw an inference concerning their merits; and that the subject in question is among then number?” Wherein does the absurdity consist? Is it in endeavoring to fix upon the nature of the kingdom of God on earth, as taught in the Bible? Or is it in endeavoring to find the time fixed for the commencement of the prophetic periods of the Bible, the termination of which is to introduce that glorious state? It certainly cannot be in either of these; for each of them has occupied the minds of the greatest and best of men in all ages.APEC 11.3

    Yet this is all that these pages profess to do; and a true answer to these two questions is all that is sought.APEC 11.4

    Finally, the question resolves itself into this Is the millennium of the Scriptures to be in a temporal, or an eternal state? If in the former, then the theory advocated in these pages must felt. But if in the latter, then the objection as to the time vanishes. For the warmest opponents of this theory admit the prophetic period, by which we arrive at the time, to begin and end at the same time contended for in these sheets. They believe the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, will introduce a temporal millennium and the literal restoration of the Jews; but here it is contended that no such events as these are to be looked for; but that the event is the establishment of a glorious and everlasting kingdom of God on earth, at the resurrection of the just. There can, therefore, be no more absurdity in saying that the glorious kingdom of God will be established at a given time, than there is in saying that the period will terminate at that time, but to another event. For the Scriptures must decide what the event is; and it cannot be absurd to examine them in reference to this interesting and important question. Brethren, look at this subject. But there are some other objections which frequently come up, and exert an influence on the public mind. Some of them shall now be examined.APEC 11.5

    1. It is asked,-Does not Christ say, Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only?” True, he does. But what has that text to do with the case in hand? I do not-nor have I ever done it-attempt to determine the day or the hour of the Son of Man’s coming. Let this point be distinctly understood. I believe the glorious appearing of the Savior will be between the fall of the Ottoman empire, which will probably take place this year, and the termination of 1843; and that by the end of that year all the scenes of judgment and trouble will be passed, and, in the expressive language of inspiration, “the sanctuary will be cleansed.” But at what point of time between those periods Christ will make his appearance, whether in 1841-2, or 3, I know not. The signs of the times, as foretold in the Bible, will indicate His near approach, but for the precise time we are commanded to watch.APEC 12.1

    Let us, then, examine the above text in the light of these remarks. Christ had just uttered a prediction respecting his coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, etc; also, he had related a great variety of signs, which should precede his coming and indicate his near approach. To illustrate his meaning, he related a parable of the fig-tree. “When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Who cannot see, in this connection, that the Savior did intend to be understood, that although the precise time should not be known, its near approach, yea, its approach even to the doors, might be known? But how far from us is an event, when it is at the door?APEC 13.1

    2. It is said, The parting instruction of the Savior, when he was about to ascend to heaven, is decidedly against the idea of knowing anything respecting the time. Acts 1:6, 7. “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom again to Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.”APEC 14.1

    It is very significantly asked, in view of this text, if we are to expect to know more on this subject than the inspired apostles? I answer, Yes. For they lived in an age when it was not necessary that the times and seasons should be known. And, hence, it was said to them, “it is not for you to know,” etc.APEC 14.2

    After the times and seasons were revealed to Daniel, he was commanded to “close up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end.” And again, when he would have known more of the matter, it was said to him, “the words are closed up and sealed even to the time of the end.” Until the “time of the end,” therefore, the times and the seasons were not to be known; but that time had not come in the apostolic age, but it now has come. (See section fifth of this book.)APEC 14.3

    Once more. Peter informs us, (1 Epistle 1:11, 12,) that the prophets who prophesied of the grace which should come unto us, searched diligently, “what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” But they were told that they ministered not to themselves, but to others.APEC 15.1

    How striking an illustration is this of the case of Daniel. He desired to understand, he searched and inquired diligently, but was told that the matter was closed and sealed even to the time of the end. If, then, the time of the end has come, (and it has,) we may expect to know more of the times and seasons now, than even the inspired penmen could in former ages They ministered not for themselves, but for us.APEC 15.2

    These objections are all I have room to examine in this place. But I, as one of the least and most unworthy of the ministers of the Lord Jesus, entreat you, my brethren beloved, whatever may be your peculiar denominational views, to read with candor the following pages, and compare the sentiments with the word of God and matter of fact; then make up your judgment. Do not treat the subject lightly; by so doing, you may lull some souls to sleep in their sins, which would otherwise be led to the Lord Jesus Christ for refuge. If there is great responsibility assumed by those who teach the near approach of the kingdom of God, and direct the community to read and search the Scriptures on this subject; how much greater is the responsibility of those who cry, Peace and safety; my Lord delayeth his coming.APEC 15.3

    For two years this has been the subject of my study, and the result is, that every successive step brings out new truths in favor of the system, and increases my conviction of its immutability, when taken as a whole. That this work, or indeed any other on the subject, is free from error or imperfection, it is not pretended. That it is not only possible, but probable, that the exposition of some texts of Scripture remarked upon in this work is incorrect, and that I may hereafter see differently in relation to them, I freely admit. But that every point, materially and vitally affecting the system, is founded on the rock of truth, I firmly believe.APEC 16.1

    In conclusion, permit me to say,-It is not a disposition to set myself up as a teacher, or because I feel myself wiser, or better, than my brethren, that I send abroad this little work. Far from it. No one can be more sensible of his incompetency for such a work, and of his unworthiness to address his fellow-ambassadors on a subject of such vast moment, than the writer. And most gladly would he sit at the feet of his brethren and receive instruction on the subject, could he see them awake to the work. And nothing but a solemn sense of duty to God and man could have induced this effort. But, with all its imperfections, it is now presented to the public. And if it shall prove instrumental in leading one soul to Christ and the kingdom of heaven, I shall feel myself a thousand times rewarded for all my labor, and the reproach I may bring on myself by the avowal of these sentiments.APEC 16.2

    I am, dear brethren, your fellow-servant, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, JOSIAH LITCH.APEC 17.1

    Millennial Grove, May 10, 1840.APEC 17.2

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