DURING the last harvest, the Author, in ten Sermons, delivered to his Congregation the subject contained in the following pages. Corresponding to the general heads, it is now published in five Discourses. To give unity to the different branches, which were necessarily divided in the delivery, and to render the perusal more convenient, this arrangement has been adopted, without the least abridgement of what was spoken, or any material addition to it.
The Author was unexpectedly led to the consideration of this subject, by irresistible inducements, which, as they can be satisfactory to none but himself, he deems it improper to detail. A belief of the importance of the subject, a conviction of its suitableness to the times that are now passing over us, and the earnest desire of many who heard it, are the principal reasons for its publication. While he is sensible of the seasonableness of the subject, he is at the same time aware of the imperfection of the execution; on this account he solicits an indulgent perusal.
The inquiry into the times that will terminate, when systems of false religion shall be thrown down, exhibits the moral and penal evils from which mankind shall then be delivered.—The statement of some parts of the church’s millennial blessedness unfolds the felicity to which, at that time, the nations shall be exalted.—By mentioning some of the signs of its approach, the saints' faith and hope may be encouraged, from those extraordinary appearances, in Divine providence.—The remarks on the numbers which are contained in the predictions, should induce believers to place their confidence on the more sure word of prophecy.—And the exhibition of the Christian’s duty, to repent and believe the gospel, ought to animate us all to make due preparation for the coming of this day of the Lord. Christ’s ministers are certainly warranted, in giving to subjects of this kind a place in their public ministrations; that they may promote the glory and interests of their Lord, and may prepare his people for all those dispensations, by which Divine predictions will be accomplished.
As this subject is equally adapted to Christians of every class, and contains many things about which their minds should now be employed, it is their duty to attend to it. Without neglecting at all the great concerns of personal religion, by working out their own salvation, with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure, Christians are called, both by God's word and providence, to meditate on those matters, to live in the expectation of the great things which God has promised to his church, to converse with one another concerning them, to pray earnestly for the COMING of their REDEEMER’S KINGDOM, to assist in keeping in operation the means that are employed for promoting it, and to observe attentively the doings of the Lord.
Though some, disregarding those things, may be disposed to say, “the days are prolonged, and every vision faileth;” it is his opinion, in concurrence with many others, that a solemn crisis is fast approaching, and that “the days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.”
That those Discourses, by the Divine blessing, may be useful to the readers, for giving them some more “understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do,” is the earnest desire of their Author.
16th March 1818.