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    In this discourse we design to call attention to only the three great signs in the heavens: the darkening of the sun, and of the moon, and the falling stars. Other signs of the times will be noticed in another sermon.OFAH 6.1

    1. The dark day of May, 19, 1780. “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.” Matthew 24:29.OFAH 6.2

    The tribulation here mentioned is that which was upon the church of Christ for 1260 years, noted in Daniel 7:25; Revelation 12:6; 13:5. In Matthew 24:21, it is said to be “tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” During the 1260 years of papal persecution, fifty, and some writers say a hundred, millions of Christians were put to death by sword, flame, and rack, and by every other engine of cruelty that wicked men and demons could invent. It was a greater tribulation than the church will ever suffer. It is true that the prophet speaks of a “time of trouble such as never was,” when Michael (Christ) shall stand up. Daniel 12:1. But that will be a national trouble upon all the wicked, and not upon the people of God; for “at that time,” says the angel to the prophet, “thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”OFAH 6.3

    The tribulation named in the text cannot apply to the destruction of Jerusalem; for that trouble on that nation was not so great as that of the cities of the plain, when God rained fire and brimstone from heaven on them; or the destruction of the old world by the flood. Neither was it so great as the day of God’s anger will be, when the last vials of his wrath shall be poured out.OFAH 6.4

    If this tribulation be applied to the Jews, or any other class of unbelieving men, it cannot be harmonized with Daniel 12:1, which speaks of the time of trouble such as never was, when Michael shall stand up. Certainly there could not be two times of trouble, at different periods, greater than ever was, or ever would be. Therefore we apply the tribulation spoken of in Matthew 24:21, 29, to the church during the 1260 years, and the trouble mentioned in Daniel 12:1, to the unbelieving world, to be experienced by them in the future.OFAH 7.1

    Then, immediately after the tribulation of those days of papal persecution, the sun was to be darkened. Mark this: it does not say, after those days; but after the tribulation of those days. The days reached to 1798, eighteen years this side of the dark day; but the tribulation of the days ceased before the sun was darkened in 1780. The days of tribulation were shortened for the elect’s sake. Verse 22. The reformation under Martin Luther modified this tribulation, and continued to restrain the rage and consume the power of the papacy until 1700; since which time, according to all church history, there has been no general persecution against the church. Mark 13:24, makes this point very plain: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened.” That is, before the 1260 years should close; but after the tribulation, or martyrdom, of the church ceased, the sun was darkened. Those who would point to the future, or to the past, prior to the eighteenth century, for the darkening of the sun here mentioned, will do well to read again Mark 13:24: “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened.”OFAH 7.2

    “A something strikingly awful shall forewarn that the world will come to an end, and that the last day is even at the door. - Martin Luther.OFAH 8.1

    “In the month of May, 1780, there was a very terrific dark day in New England, when ‘all faces seemed to gather blackness,’ and the people were filled with fear. There was great distress in the village where Edward Lee lived: ‘men’s hearts failing them for fear’ that the Judgment-day was at hand. The neighbors all flocked around the holy man; for his lamp was trimmed, and shining brighter than ever, amidst the unnatural darkness. Happy and joyful in God, he pointed them to their only refuge from the wrath to come, and spent the gloomy hours in earnest prayer for the distressed multitude.” - Tract No. 379 of Am. Tract Society. - Life of Edward Lee.OFAH 8.2

    “The 19th day of May, 1780, was a remarkably dark day. Candles were lighted in many houses. The birds were silent, and disappeared. The fowls retired to roost. It was the general opinion that the day of Judgment was at hand. The legislature of Connecticut was in session, at Hartford, but being unable to transact business, adjourned. - President Dwight in (Ct.) Historical Collections.OFAH 8.3

    “ANNIVERSARY OF THE DARK DAY. - The dark day, May 19, 1780, is thus described by Mr. Stone, in his History of Beverly: ‘The sun rose clear, but soon assumed a brassy hue. About 10 o’clock, A. M., it became unusually dark. The darkness continued to increase till about one o’clock, when it began to decrease. During this time, candles became necessary. The birds disappeared and were silent, the fowls went to their roosts, the cocks crew as at daybreak, and everything bore the appearance and gloom of night. The alarm produced by this unusual aspect of the heavens was great.’” - Portsmouth Journal, May 20, 1843.OFAH 8.4

    The supernatural darkening of the sun, May 19, 1780, has been so universally understood that Noah Webster’s dictionary, in the edition for 1869, under the head of Explanatory and Pronouncing Vocabulary of Noted Names, says:OFAH 9.1

    “The dark day, May 19, 1780; - so called on account of a remarkable darkness on that day, extending over all New England. In some places, persons could not see to read common print in the open air for several hours together. Birds sang their evening songs, disappeared, and became silent; fowls went to roost; cattle sought the barnyard; and candles were lighted in the houses. The obscuration began about ten o’clock in the morning, and continued till the middle of the next night, but with differences of degree and duration in different places. For several days previous, the wind had been variable, but chiefly from the south-west and the north-east. The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not known.”OFAH 9.2

    From Robert Sears’ Guide to Knowledge, published in New York, 1844, we extract the following: ‘On the 19th of May, 1780, an uncommon darkness took place all over New England, and extended to Canada. It continued about fourteen hours, or from ten o’clock in the morning till midnight. The darkness was so great that people were unable to read common print, or tell the time of the day by their watches, or to dine, or transact their ordinary business, without the light of candles. They became dull and gloomy, and some were excessively frightened. The fowls went to roost. Objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance, and everything bore the appearance of gloom and night. Similar days have occasionally been known, though inferior in the degree or extent of their darkness. The causes of these phenomena are unknown. They certainly were not the result of eclipses. ’”OFAH 9.3

    2. The dark night of May 19, 1780. “And the moon shall not give her light.” Matthew 24:29.OFAH 10.1

    “The moon shines with a borrowed light; and, therefore, if the sun from whom she borrows her light is turned into darkness, she must fail, of course, and become bankrupt.” - Matthew Henry.OFAH 10.2

    “The night succeeding that day (May 19, 1780,) was of such pitchy darkness that, in some instances, horses could not be compelled to leave the stable when wanted for service. About midnight, the clouds were dispersed, and the moon and stars appeared with unimpaired brilliancy.” - Portsmouth Journal, May 20, 1843. - Extract from Stone’s History of Beverly.OFAH 10.3

    Mr. Tenny, of Exeter, N. H., quoted by Mr. Gage, to the Historical Society, speaking of the dark day and dark night of May 19, 1780, says:OFAH 10.4

    “The darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as has ever been observed since the Almighty first gave birth to light. I could not help conceiving at the time, that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable darkness, or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete. A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes was equally invisible with the blackest velvet.”OFAH 10.5

    Dr. Adams, speaking of the dark night, says:OFAH 11.1

    “At nine, it was a darkness to be felt by more senses than one, as there was a strong smell of soot. Almost every one who happened to be out in the evening, got lost in going home. The darkness was as uncommon in the night as it was in the day, as the moon had fulled the day before.”OFAH 11.2

    3. The falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833. “And the stars shall fall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29. We here give an extract from an article written by Henry Dana Ward, in regard to the falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833, published in the Journal of Commerce, Nov. 15, 1833:OFAH 11.3

    “At the cry, ‘Look out of the window,’ I sprang from a deep sleep, and with wonder saw the east lighted up with the dawn and meteors. The zenith, the north, and the west also, showed the falling stars, in the very image of one thing, and only one, I ever heard of. I called to my wife to behold; and while robing, she exclaimed, ‘See how the stars fall!’ I replied, ‘That is the wonder!’ and we felt in our hearts that it was a sign of the last days; for, truly, ‘the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Revelation 6:13. This language of the prophet has always been received as metaphorical. Yesterday, it was literally fulfilled. The ancients understood by aster, in Greek, and stella, in Latin, the smaller lights of heaven. The refinement of modern astronomy has made the distinction between stars of heaven and meteors of heaven. Therefore the idea of the prophet, as it is expressed in the original Greek, was literally fulfilled in the phenomenon of yesterday.OFAH 11.4

    “And how did they fall? Neither myself, nor one of the family, heard any report; and were I to hunt through nature for a simile, I could not find one so apt to illustrate the appearance of the heavens, as that which St. John uses in the prophecy before quoted.”OFAH 12.1

    “The stars fell ‘even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Here is the exactness of the prophet. The falling stars did not come as if from several trees shaken, but from one: those which appeared in the east fell toward the east; those which appeared in the north fell toward the north; those which appeared in the west fell toward the west; and those which appeared in the south (for I went out of my residence into the Park) fell toward the south. And they fell not as the ripe fruit falls - far from it; but they flew, they were cast, like the unripe fruit, which at first refuses to leave the branch; and when, under a violent pressure, it does break its hold, it flies swiftly, straight off, descending; and in the multitude’s falling, some cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less force, but each one falls on its own side of the tree. Such was the appearance of the above phenomenon to the inmates of my house.”OFAH 12.2

    Prof. Olmstead, of Yale College, says:OFAH 12.3

    “The extent of the shower of 1833 was such as to cover no inconsiderable part of the earth’s surface, from the middle of the Atlantic on the east, to the Pacific on the west; and from the northern coast of South America, to undefined regions among the British possessions on the north, the exhibition was visible, and everywhere presented nearly the same appearance.OFAH 12.4

    “The meteors did not fly at random over all parts of the sky, but appeared to emanate from a point in the constellation Leo, near a star called Gamma Leonis, in the bend of the sickle.OFAH 13.1

    “This is no longer to be regarded as a terrestrial, but as a celestial, phenomenon; and shooting stars are now to be no more viewed as casual productions of the upper regions of the atmosphere, but as visitants from other worlds, or from the planetary voids.”OFAH 13.2

    The People’s Magazine, Boston, Jan., 1834, on the falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833, says:OFAH 13.3

    “The Rockingham (Va.) Register calls it ‘A rain of fire,’ - thousands of stars being seen at once; some said it began with considerable noise.OFAH 13.4

    “The Journal of Commerce informs, that ‘three hundred miles this side of Liverpool the phenomenon was as splendid there as here; and that in St. Lawrence County there was a snow-storm during the phenomenon, in which the falling stars appeared like lightning.... That in Germantown, Pa., they seemed like showers of great hail. ’OFAH 13.5

    “The Lancaster (Pa.) Examiner says: “The air was filled with innumerable meteors or stars; ... hundreds of thousands of brilliant bodies might be seen falling at every moment, .... sloping their descent toward the earth, at an angle of about forty-five degrees, resembling flashes of fire. ’”OFAH 13.6

    This is important testimony as to the vast extent of the falling stars, and also from their emanating from a single point in the heavens. It was the greatest display of celestial fire-works recorded on the pages of history. It was no atmospheric or terrestrial phenomenon, common to the upper regions of the earth; but a display of the divine power, baffling the science of man.OFAH 13.7

    After our Lord names these three signs; first, the sun darkened; second, the moon’s not giving her light; and third, the stars’ falling from heaven, Matthew 24:29-31, he gives the parable of the fig tree.OFAH 14.1

    “Now learn 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 [He, margin] is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:32, 33.OFAH 14.2

    The parable of the fig tree is probably the most forcible that could be used by our Lord to inspire in the hearts of his people faith in his speedy coming. When the trees of the field begin to put forth their leaves, and the tender grass springs up, and the ground is being covered with its green velvet carpet, we know that summer is nigh. If one should doubt, and talk of the season’s changing back to winter, he would be thought insane. It is a certainty with us that summer is near when we see these signs in nature. We know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, or with the same certainty, know that Christ’s coming is at the doors when the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, are fulfilled.OFAH 14.3

    Here, dear reader, our Lord has stated the object of these signs, which is, that we may know when his coming is at the doors. But we are told that the church is not to know anything of the period of Christ’s second advent. Then, we inquire, why did our Lord give signs of the event? Are they given to deceive us? to lead the honest Christian to look for Christ’s coming when, in fact, nothing is to be known of the time of the event? Certainly not. The fact that Christ foretells signs of his coming, and then states the object of those signs, that the church may KNOW when the event is near, even at the doors, is sufficient proof that it is the design of Heaven that the church should understand the period of the second advent.OFAH 14.4

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