James Stuart Russell (1816-1895)

"Doubtless most readers will shrink from the demand made upon their faith, when they are asked to believe that the predictions of our Lord in Matthew 24, and the kindred prophecy of St. Paul in
1 Thess. 4, had a veritable accomplishment. . . . Credible or incredible, reasonable or unreasonable, the authority of Scripture is committed to the affirmation. And why should it be thought incredible? The reply will be, 'Because there is no historical evidence of the fact.' This, however, is an assumption. . . . What evidence, for example, may be reasonably required that the most seemingly incredible event predicted in Matt. 24:31, and in 1 ;Thess. 4:17, commonly denominated "the rapture of the saints," actually took place? The principal, if not the only, portion that seems to come within the cognizance of human sense, is the removal of a great multitude of the disciples of Christ from this earthly scene. We might expect, therefore, that there should be some trace in history of this sudden disappearance of so vast a body of believers. . . . Ask the ecclesiastical historian to put his finger on the spot where the records of early Christianity are most obscure, and he will unhesitatingly point to the period when the Acts of the Apostles end. Of this period the learned Neander says, 'We have no information, nor can the total want of sources for this part of Church history be at all surprising.' And, again, he speaks of 'the age immediately succeeding the Apostolic,' of which we have unfortunately so few authentic memorials."