Page images

as (8) Bafnage fays, are beggars, and live upon alms. The Jews fay, that when the Meffiah fhall come, the city will undergo a conflagration and inundation in order to be purified from the defilements, which the Chriftian and Mohammedan have committed in it; and therefore they choose not to fettle there. But the writer juft mentioned affigns two more probable and natural reafons. "One is, that the Mahommedans look upon "Jerufalem as a holy place; and therefore there are a great many Santons and devout Muffulmen, who have taken up their abode there, who are perfecutors "of the Jews as well as of the Chriftians, fo that they "have lefs tranquillity and liberty in Jerufalem than in other places: and as there is very little trade, there is "not much to be got, and this want of gain drives them away.


[ocr errors]

By thus tracing the hiftory of Jerufalem from the deftruction by Titus to the prefent time, it appears evidently, that as the Jews have been led away captive into all nations, fo Jerufalem hath been troden down of the Gentiles. There are now almoft 1700 years, in which the Jewish nation have been a ftanding monument of the truth of Chrift's predictions, themfelves difperfed over the face of the whole earth, and their land groaning under the yoke of foreign lords and conquerors: And at this day there is no reason to doubt but they will continue in the fame ftate, nor ever recover their native country, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Our Saviour's words are very memorable, Jerufalem Jhall be troden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. It is ftill troden down by the Gentiles, and confequently the times of the Gentiles are not yet fulfilled. When the times of the Gentiles thall be fulfilled, then the expreffion implies that the Jews fhall be reftored: and for what reafon, can we believe, that though they are difperfed among all nations, yet by a conftant miracle they are kept diftinct from all but for the farther manifeftation of God's purpofes towards them. The prophecies have been accomplished to the greateft exact-

(8) Basnage Hift. of the Jews, B. 7. Chap. 24. Sect. 10.



nefs in the deftruction of their city, and its continuing ftill fubject to strangers, in the difperfion of their people, and their living ftill feparate from all people; and why fhould not the remaining parts of the fame prophecies be as fully accomplished too in their restoration, at the proper feafon, when the times of the Gentiles fhall be fulfilled? The times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled, when the times of the four great kingdoms of the Gentiles according to Daniel's prophecies fhall be expired, and the fifth kingdom or the kingdom of Chrift fhall be fet up in their place, and the faints of the moft High fhall take the kingdom, and poffefs the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Jerufalem, as it hath hitherto remained, fo probably will remain in fubjection to the Gentiles, until thefe times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; or as St. Paul expreffeth it, (Rom. XI. 25, 26.) until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and fo all Ifrael fhall be faced, and become again the people of God. The fulness of the Jews will come in as well as the fulness of the Gentiles. For (ver. 12, &c.) if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I would not, brethren, that ye fhould be ignorant of this myfiery, that blindness in part is happened to Ifrael, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in: And fo all Ifrael fhall be faced,





HEN we first entered on an explanation of our Saviour's prophecies relating to the deftruction of Jerufalem, comprifed chiefly in this 24th chapter of St. Matthew, it was obferved that the difciples in their queftion propofe two things to our Saviour, first when


fhould be the time of his coming or the deftruction of Jerufalem, and fecondly what should be the figns of it, (ver. 3.) Tell us when thall these things be, and what shall be the figns of thy coming, and of the conclufion of the age. The latter part of the queftion our Saviour anfwereth first, and treateth at large of the fgns of the deftru&tion of Jerufalem from the 4th verfe of the chapter to the 31ft inclufive. He toucheth upon the most material paffages and accidents, not only of thofe which were to forerun this great event, but likewife of those which were to attend, and immediately to follow upon it: and having thus anfwered the latter part of the queftion, he proceeds now in verfe 32d to anfwer the former part of the queftion, as to the time of his coming and the deftruction of Jerufalem.

He begins with obferving that the figns which he had given would be as certain an indication of the time of his coming, as the fig-tree's putting forth its leaves is of the approach of fummer; (ver. 32, 33.) Now learn a parable of the fig-tree: when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that fummer is nigh: So likewife ye, when ye shall fee all these things, know that it is near, or he is near, even at the doors. He proceeds to declare that the time of his coming was at no very great distance; and to fhow that he hath been fpeaking all this while of the deftruction of Jerufalem, he affirms with his ufual affirmation, (ver. 34.) Verily I fay unto you, This generation fhall not pafs, till all these things be fulfilled. It is to me a wonder how any man can refer part of the foregoing difcourfe to the deftruction of Jerufalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other diftant event, when it is faid fo pofitively here in the conclufion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this gene- ration. It feemeth as if our Saviour had been aware of fome fuch mifapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphafis to his affirmation, (ver. 35.) Heaven and earth fhall pass away, but my words fhall not pass away. It is a common figure of speech in the oriental languages, to fay of two things that the one thall be and the other fhall not be, when the meaning is only that the one fhall happen fooner or more eafily than


than the other. As in this inftance of our Saviour, Heaven and earth fhall pass away, but my words fhall not pass away, the meaning is, Heaven and earth fhall fooner or more eafily pafs away than my words fhall' pafs away; the frame of the universe fhall fooner or more easily be diffolved than my words fhall not be fulfilled; And thus it is expreffed by St. Luke upon a like occafion, (XVI. 17.) It is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one` tittle of the law to fail.

In another place he fays (Matt. XVI. 28.) There are fome flanding here, who fhall not tafte of death, till they fee the Son of man coming in his kingdom: intimating that it would not fucceed immediately, and yet not at fuch a distance of time, but that fome then living should be fpectators of the calamities coming upon the nation. In like manner he fays to the women, who bewailed and lamented him as he was going to be crucified, (Luke XXIII. 28.) Daughters of Jerufalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourfelves, and for your children: which fufficiently implied, that the days of diftrefs and mifery were coming, and would fall on them and their children. But at that time there was not any appearance of fuch immediate ruin. The wifeft politician could not have inferred it from the then prefent ftate of affairs. Nothing Jefs than divine prefcience could have certainly foreseen and foretold it,

But ftill the exact time of this judgment was unknown to all creatures, (ver. 36.) But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels in heaven, but my Father only. The word wpa (1) is of larger fignification than hour; and befides it feemeth fomewhat improper to fay Of that day and hour knoweth no man; for if the day was not known, certainly the hour was not, and it was fuperfluous to make fuch an addition. I conceive therefore that the paffage fhould be rendered, not Of that day and hour knoweth no man, but Of that day and feafon knoweth no man, as the word is frequently ufed in the best authors both facred and profane. It is true our Saviour

(1) Spar hic non diei particulam fed latius fumti temporis ambitum intelgo, &c. Grot. in locuin,


declares, All these things fhall be fulfilled in this generation; it is true the prophet Daniel hath given fome intimation of the time in his famous prophecy of the feventy weeks: but though this great revolution was to happen in that generation; though it was to happen towards the conclufion of feventy weeks or 490 years to be computed from a certain date that is not eafy to be fixed; yet the particular day, the particular feafon in which it was to happen, might ftill remain a fecret to men and angels; and our Saviour had before (ver. 20.) advised his difciples to pray, that their flight be not in the winter, neither on the fabbath-day; the day not being known, they might pray that their flight be not on the fabbath-day; the feafon not being known, they might pray that their flight be not in the winter. As it was in the days of Noah, faith our Saviour, (ver. 37, 38, 39.) so shall it be now. As then, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till they were furprifed by the flood, notwithstanding the frequent warnings and admonitions. of that preacher of righteoufnefs: fo now, they thall be engaged in the bufinefs and pleasures of the world, little expecting, little thinking of this univerfal ruin, till it come upon them, notwithstanding the exprefs predic tions and declarations of Chrift and his apoftles. Then fhall two be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other lejt: Two women jhall be grinding at the mill. Dr. Shaw in his travels, making fome obfervations upon the kingdoms of Algiers and Tunis, fays in p. 297. that "wo-, “men alone are employed to grind their corn, and that "when the uppermoft millftone is large, or expedition "is required, then only a fecond woman is called in to "affift." This obfervation I owe to Bithop Pearce.-Two women shall be grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left. (ver. 40, 41.) That is, Providence will then make a diftinction between fuch, as are not at all diftinguished now. Some thall be refcued from the deftruction of Jerufalem, like Lot out of the burning of Sodom; while others, no ways perhaps different in outward circumftances, fhall be left to perish in it.

The matter is carried fomewhat farther in the parallel


« PreviousContinue »