This little book provides a number of strong arguments against the doctrine of the pre-tribulational (or secret) rapture. That theory, popular among many Protestants, especially in the United States, holds that Christ will return unexpectedly to take his church to heaven seven years before he comes to defeat his enemies and to inaugurate the millennial kingdom. The Hope of Christ's Second Coming is organized into 24 short chapters and nine shorter appendices, each of which I found thought-provoking. Tregelles wrote in the nineteenth century, so his style may seem archaic at times, but he's well worth the occasional reread sentence to get at his meaning.
In addition to opposing the secret rapture, this book provides insight into the history of nineteenth century premillennial thought. Tregelles mentioned details no longer widely discussed, such as the contemporary trends in thought that encouraged the adoption of the doctrine of the secret rapture. He stated that "When the hope of our Lord's second coming was revived as a point of definite teaching" a supposition arose "that there might be a kind of momentary expectation of the Lord's appearing." Later, however, students of prophecy realized that "many things remained unaccomplished," and that realization, along with a reluctance to give up the notion that the end was imminent, set the stage for the adoption of the theory of the secret rapture.
In The Roots of Fundamentalism, Ernest R. Sandeen discounted the story that the doctrine of the secret rapture "originated in one of the outbursts of tongues in Edward Irving's church about 1832" as "a groundless and pernicious charge" because it came from Tregelles, who was opposed to John Nelson Darby. Having read The Hope of Christ's Second Coming, I do believe Tregelles meant to be pernicious, in the dictionary definition of "tending to cause death." He did indeed want to see the secret rapture doctrine exterminated, but he was not motivated, I suspect, by personal animosity against Darby, as Sandeen implied. Instead, The Hope of Christ's Second Coming was written with the clear purpose of defending what Tregelles thought to be the truth against error. Whether the charge was groundless, I have no way of knowing. But I do not believe Tregelles would have related the story if he knew it to be groundless.
I have yet to find a defense of the secret rapture as persuasive as this work against it. Not Craig Blaising's essay in The Rapture, and certainly not Renald Showers' Maranatha Our Lord Come! Perhaps Pentecost will convince me when I read his Things to Come, or John MacArthur may do so when I listen to his sermon series "Will the Church Go through the Tribulation?"
Strong Tower Publishing did a nice job in printing The Hope of Christ's Second Coming. This isn't a scan of a nineteenth century volume, but has a fresh, easy-to-read typeface and an attractive layout. I suspect they scanned an old volume, did OCR, then edited and reformatted it. I found only one obvious error. On page 107, "Indeed" is written as "I0ndeed." There's also an error on pages 123/124, where a reference to 2 Peter 1:19 is ascribed to 1 Peter, but that could have been in the original.
For additional nineteenth century perspectives on the secret rapture, I recommend Five Letters on Events Predicted in Scripture in volume 8 of the collected works of Benjamin Wills Newton. Newton's letters were written in 1840. Also, chapter 8 of John Bennett's The Second Advent (1877) is worthwhile. Both are available free online from Google Books.