Yesterday I posted an out of context Tertullian quote from Gary DeMar's Last Day Madness. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the next quote from page 19:
In the sixth century, Pope Gregory assured the world that the return of Christ could not be far off since he claimed that so many prophecies were being fulfilled in his day.
Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world some we see already accomplished…. For we now see that nation arises against nation and that they press and weigh upon the land in our own times as never before in the annals of the past. Earthquakes overwhelm countless cities, as we often hear from other parts of the world. Pestilence we endure without interruption. It is true that we do not behold signs in the sun and moon and stars but that these are not far off we may infer from the changes of the atmosphere.[Quoted in T. Francis Glasson, His Appearing and His Kingdom (London: Epworth, 1953), 45].
This quote, in context, indeed says what Gary DeMar says it does. While it was written long ago, it stands as a pertinent testimony that one cannot know the day or the hour of the end of the world. You may "'feel" like it is based on the current state of things, but there's no absolutely certain way to know for sure. Read Gregory's words, and see how similar his sentiment is to our current doomsday experts:
Gregory to Leander, bishop of Seville:
With all my heart I have wished to answer you better, but the burden of my pastoral calls so overpowers me that I would rather weep than speak, as your reverence undoubtedly gathers from the very character of my correspondence when I am remiss in addressing one whom I warmly love. In fact, so beaten about am I by the billows in this corner of the world, that I can in no wise bring to harbor the ancient, rolling ship at whose helm I stand through God's mysterious dispensation.
Now the waves break over us from the front, now at the side the foaming mountains of the sea swell high, now in the rear the tempest pursues us. Beset by all these perils, I am forced first to steer directly in the face of the storm, again to swerve the vessel and to receive obliquely the onset of the waters. I groan, because I know that if I am negligent the bilge water of vice is deepening, and that if the storm assails us furiously at that instant the decaying planks forebode shipwreck. Fearful, I remember that I have lost my quiet shore of peace, and sighing I gaze toward the land which, while the wind of circumstances blows contrarily, I cannot gain. So, dearest brother, if you love me, stretch forth the hand of prayer to me amid these floods, and, as you aid me in my troubles, thus as a reward shall you come forth more valiantly from yours. . . .
[Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world], some we see already accomplished; the others we dread as close upon us. For we now see that nation rises against nation, and that they press and weigh upon the land in our own times as never before in the annals of the past. Earthquakes overwhelm countless cities, as we often hear from other parts of the world. Pestilence we endure without interruption. It is true that as yet we do not behold signs in the sun and moon and stars; but that these are not far off we may infer from the changes in the atmosphere. Before Italy was given over to be desolated by the sword of a heathen foe, we beheld fiery ranks in heaven, and even the streaming blood of the human race as it was afterwards spilt. [source]
One point of tedium: the phrase "Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world" as cited by DeMar is placed in brackets in the context above. I have yet to locate a better primary source to determine if the phrase is original to Gregory.