dispensation. Augustine held that Christ?s reign of a thousand years, which occupies the last epoch of the world?s history, did not still lie ahead in the future, but began with the founding of the church (Ritschl, Just. and Recone., 286). Luther, near the time of his death, said: ?God forbid that the world should last fifty years longer! Let him cut matters short with his last Judgment!? Melanchthon put the end less than two hundred years from his time. Calvin?s motto was: ? Domine, quousque?? ? ?O Lord, how long?? Jonathan Edwards, before and during the great Awakening, indulged high expectations as to the probable extension of the movement until it should bring the world, even in his own lifetime, into the love and obedience of Christ (Life, by Allen, 234). Better than any one of these is the utterance of Dr. Broadus: ?If I am always ready, I shall be ready when Jesus comes.? On the whole subject see Hovey, in Baptist Quarterly, Oct. 1877:416-432; Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:641-646; Stevens, in Am. Com. on Thessalonians, Excursus on The Parousia, and notes on <520413>1 Thess. 4:13, 16; 5:11; <530203>2 Thess. 2:3, 12; Godspeed, Messiah?s Second Advent; Heagle, That Blessed Hope.
3. The precursors of Christ?s coming.
(a) Through the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the kingdom of Christ is steadily to enlarge its boundaries, until Jews and Gentiles alike become possessed of its blessings and a millennial period is introduced in which Christianity generally prevails throughout the earth.
<270244> Daniel 2:44, 45 ? ?And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure,?
<401331> Matthew 13:31, 32 ? ?The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed? which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree so that the birds of heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof.? The parable of the leaven, which follows, apparently illustrates the intensive, as that of the mustard seed illustrates the extensive, development of the kingdom of God. It is as impossible to confine the reference of the leaven to the spread of evil as it is impossible to confine the reference of the mustard seed to the spread of good.
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