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OF MR. FLEMING.
UPWARDS of twenty years have now passed since circumstances, into the special character of which it is not necessary to enter, awakened among many, both in this country and abroad, an anxious desire to understand the prophetic parts of Scripture. It resulted in not a few being thoroughly and abidingly convinced, that whilst the Scriptures teem with predictions of blessing both to Israel and to the nations, previous to the dissolution of the present heavens and earth, yet that the period in which these promised blessings are to be dispensed is one materially different from that in which the Church of God is now suffering ; and that the great event which is to close this present dispensation and introduce the promised age of blessing is the appearing in glory of the great God our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I feel assured that I shall carry with me the feelings of every heart that has learned to expect the personal return of the Lord Jesus, when I say that they esteem it now as one of the most precious of the truths of God-at once the object of their hope and the subject of their testimony; and I shall not in vain ask them to discountenance the circulation of any writings that tend to destroy the expectation of the Lord's return, or to throw any veil over the interpretation of those parts of Scripture that are connected therewith.
It grieves me to be obliged to number among such writings the work of Mr. Fleming, lately republished
and now extensively circulated. We almost instinctively feel a reverence for those who (though they may have been mistaken) have written and acted in the fear of God. This, however, must not deter us from openly exposing their errors, being persuaded of this, that they themselves, if they could now speak, would not ask that any thing they have said or done contrary to Christ and his truth should be spared. Their earnest desire would be that every thing which through them may be acting prejudicially on the Church of God, might be frustrated in its results. And that must be prejudicial to the Church of God which either subverts any of the great substantive facts that He has revealed, or which presents those facts in different order and connexion from that in which He has been pleased to set them in his word.
To those then who expect the pre-millennial advent of the Lord Jesus (and to such principally I now write) it is sufficient to say that the Book we are considering denies that Advent to be personal. On this ground only I might ask that its claim should be rejected, for it claims to be regarded as a true exposition of the prophetic testimonies of God. As such it must utterly be rejected. All who have learned to wait for God's Son from heaven, will feel too distinctly the solemn force of the concluding part of the nineteenth of Revelation, to admit of its being explained away on the ground of symbols or figurative language, or on any other ground. To such the quotation of the passage which I cite at the foot of this page would be sufficient to secure their condemnation of the work.*
* “ Seeing I have but slightly touched upon the millennium or the thousand years reign of the saints on earth, I shall desire you to think a little further on this, as the greatest event that is to happen before the end of the world. I dare not indeed ex patiate upon this vast subject; only I shall suggest a few things concerning it. The first is, that this is to begin immediately after the total and final destruction of Rome papal, in or about
There are, however, a few other points to which I would desire briefly to direct their attention.
One of the great objects of God in giving enlarged acquaintance with the Scripture, especially prophetic Scripture, is to bring into his Church a more distinct recognition of the principles which throughout this dispensation should have characterised his people, and marked them as distinct both from Israel and from the nations. The leading nations of the earth, up to the very end of the present dispensation, are symbolized in the Scripture by fierce beasts which know not Christ nor subjection to his laws,—and Israel is left to grope in judicial blindness and sin; but in contrast with both, the people of God stand peculiar in their principles and testimonies, commanded indeed to fight, but to fight only with spiritual weapons holding both the shield and the sword, yet entering no path unsuited to those whose feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Such, while the Apostles lived, were the principles and the position of the children of God. Such ought they to have been throughout the dispensation. But they soon abandoned this position, and mingling with the nations, learned their ways; and now as the latter days are closing in, God, whose word we have neglected, seeks, in mercy, to awaken us from our slumber, and to lead us back to that sure word of prophecy which marks the course of these nations, and their evil end. Many have read in the light of that word the history and the doom both of Israel and the nations, and have seen the necessity of seeking to recover those principles which give a characteristic separateness to the children of God.
the year 2000; and that therefore Christ himself will have the honour of destroying that formidable enemy, by a new and remarkable appearance of himself, as I said before. But, secondly, we must not imagine that this appearance of Christ will be a personal one," &c.- Fleminy, pp. 39, 93.