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MR. PYM'S ARGUMENT FOR THE YEAR 1847, AS THE OUTSIDE PERIOD OF THE LORD'S RETURN TO EARTH IN PERSON, EXAMINED.
A LITTLE book has, of late, been circulating in the neighbourhood in which I live, written by Mr. Pym, Vicar of Willian, in Hertfordshire, the purport of which is to show that the second personal appearance of the Lord must take place before the year 1847.
Strange indeed it is that such a book even bears upon its pages those words of our Saviour himself"Of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels in heaven." Strange, indeed! for if the facts and argument which Mr. Pym has put forth to determine the date were authentic, it had lain within the reach of the meanest intellect to discover long ago. How much more obvious, then, must it have been to the higher capacity of the angels.
But the book professes to be written for the young and unlearned; to put a warning into their
hands on the subject of which it treats.
my brethren, who have been moved by your religious sensibility, and your reverence for the mysteries of God, to give heed to the words of this teacher, and such as he, who, professing a more than ordinary love for the truths of the word of God, and the blessed hopes conveyed in them, gain the confidence of the simple and sincere, by pretending to have discovered in that holy book deeper things than common teachers make known, look carefully here, and attentively examine with me the arguments and the assertions of this book.
I assure you, that even to me, who feel most desirous that you should know the truth of this matter, which I am most fully persuaded is in opposition to this book;-even I, through the weakness of my nature, for such must be the cause, am disposed to view the general conclusions of the work as an enticing and beautiful romance, if I only could find ground to think it true. But truth is the most precious of all things; and however it may seem to some that, in this Essay, I am seeking to relieve the world of an impressive admonition to consider diligently their ways, and to be robbing themselves of an animating cause to rejoice with thanksgiving in the Lord, let them dismiss the prejudice, and temperately resolve to seek, and bear to look upon the truth, for it is certainly the will of the God of truth that we should follow it before all things, and trust to him, that that which he ordains and purposes shall be better and holier than any imagination of our own. The more definite and the more near any object of expectation which is beau
tiful in its character and elevating in the sentiments it awakens, is pictured and presented to the mind, the stronger disposition must it there find to embrace it, and receive it as a true description. This favourable disposition must any one meet with in his readers, who will present to them some tangible picture of the general objects of their faith, dressed in the beauteous light of the language of Divine promise. This earth, indeed, we all look upon with love and admiration, as the effulgent expression of the celestial mind, in which every form of beauty which it contains was first conceived; and the prospect of living here again in love, in a more perfect state of nature, without the let and hindrance of sin and sorrow, and without the apprehension of a speedy departure as now, how soon we know not, but for the continuance of a thousand years, and that speedily to arrive; this is a draught of the prophetic scenes which cannot but be welcome to a believer. But remember, that if this be not truth, it is only our own infirmity; for if the truth is something different, it must be also something better than this, for "it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive what good things God hath prepared for those that love him ;" therefore should we be confident to look for truth, and abide in that-not carried about with every wind of doctrine, as some have made use of this cry, which Mr. Pym has raised, to draw the fearful and unlearned into schism.
If further reasons be sought for my desire to set forth the errors of this book, they are these:—that its general tone, and its language in many places,
is injurious; that it tends to the unsettlement of faith; claiming for private interpretation the authority of positive doctrine; but chiefly am I offended to see the sacred repository of saving knowledge and elevating contemplation, the well of divine truth, and refreshing fountain of holiness and comfort, converted into a liberty-ground of fanciful invention, as if it were a piece of poetical mythology, out of which any one of a romantic turn may compose whatsoever entertaining visions and exciting schemes of doctrine may chance to fall in with the prepossessions of his imagination.
I pray you, then, to bestow upon this examination those pains which are necessary, in every case, to arrive at an assurance of the truth; and, if I seem long, yet know that to come to the bottom of a question it is needful to view it in all its parts. Not only in the end will you so be better able to judge of the particular subjects of this discussion, and to estimate the degree of confidence to which Mr. Pym is entitled as a faithful guide to the sense of Scripture; but I trust also you will, from the exercise, gain some security against the danger of being misled hereafter by a similar treatment of the mysteries of religion.
I shall be obliged to show you how the author of this work has mistated Scripture; how he has laid different parts together as relating to the same thing, which have no connexion with each other, drawing an unwarranted conclusion from the joint effect of the two; how he has made arbitrary declarations of the sense of Scripture on the faith of passages referred to, which, on being examined,