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is he, hold him fast, and immediately he came to Jesus, and said, hail, master, and kissed him. Now this giving of the sign, was of course before they came into the presence of Christ, and the act of kissing, though suddenly done when they approached him, must have been sometime after the giving of the sign. The word immediately implies in this case, only the suddenness of the act when it was done. See also Mark 5: 2. Matt. 13: 5. Mark 4: 5. The word, immediately, in the passage before us, does not mark so much the time, when the event will take place, as the suddenness of its approach, when it So it is parallel with other representations of the fact, that in a moment, in a twinkling, the event shall come.
Much stress is without reason, laid upon its being said, this generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. This argument is grounded on a misapprehension of the word generation. The primary and most common meaning of the word generation, is that of a race or family, as the generation of Adam, of Abram, of Israel, &c. and not the men of a certain age. It is true that the generation of Israel as a distinct nation, is not to be obliterated till Christ's second coming. But it was not true that that generation, meaning the average term of human life, that is thirty years, continued till the destruction of Jerusalem. Very few of those at middle age, at the time of the crucifixion, could have been alive when Jerusalem was destroyed, forty years after.
Christ in this verse virtually says, this nation of the Jews shall not lose itself by mingling with other nations till the last judgment. It shall have a distinct existence, and be to all ages, a standing pledge and memento of his final coming. Thus he sets forth this nation, preserved through all ages, by a careful providence, amounting almost to a perpetual miracle, as the earnest to confirm the promise of his coming. And in the same connexion he adds,-Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Then the date of this event, be it what it will, is settled in the mind of God, even to the hour. But the destruction of Jerusalem was incapable of being thus dated, having been the work of months and
years. No man on the ground could have told the hour when Christ came for the purpose of destruction. Both the city and the nation, died by inches. Whereas the hour and moment, when Christ will be seen coming in the clouds of heaven, will be distinctly marked. The last coming is here, and in other places, said to be with great suddenness. It is represented by such comparisons as that of the rushing in of the waters of Noah's flood, or the kindling of the fires of Sodom, as an event, preceded by no signs or premonitions. The only sign of his coming being the actual sight of his coming, as the summer shows itself by putting forth the summer foliage. But I need not say that the coming of Jerusalem's destruction, was every way different from this. Such language then, must apply to the future coming of Christ. And in other particulars the language of the passage is eminently descriptive of the scenes of the last day, which must be made extravagantly hyperbolical, to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem. The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars shall fall, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn. And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, and he shall send his angels, with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now what took place in the destruction of Jerusalem, which such language is fit to describe? Suppose we grant that the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, are capable of representing the falling of the Jewish political fabric, other parts of the description are not capable of that application. It is said all the tribes of the earth (ge the earth, not oikoumene, sometimes rendered the land or Jewish nation.) And to put it beyond a question that the whole earth and not simply Palestine is here meant, Luke adds-For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on all the face of the earth. But all the tribes of the earth did not mourn, nor were all the dwellers on the face of
the earth suddenly ensnared by the destruction of Jerusalem. To the Roman empire, then the greatest part of the world, those were days of triumph and dividing of spoils.
And then what is meant by sending his angels with the sound of a trumpet, and gathering his elect from the four winds? Should it be said that this is a figure for the spread of the gospel in all parts of the world, aud the gathering of christians into the church, I answer, this interpretation presupposes that the preaching of the gospel to all parts of the world, was cotemporaneous with the destruction of Jerusalem. But it does not appear from history that the publication of the gospel to the heathen, received any new and special impulse, while the work of destruction was going forward upon Jerusalem. But this phraseology is specially appropriate to Christ's coming to raise the dead, and judge the world. And you might, with as little violence to the language, where the Apostle says-The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead shall rise first-say, this is only a figure for the powerful and effectual preaching of the gospel; and so you might undermine all the proofs of a resurrection.
Further, we are exhorted to watch, because we know not at what hour this coming of Christ will overtake us, whereas the disciples were made to know by distinct signs, as to the time when the national dangers were approaching, in order to facilitate their flight. But they were given to understand that the world could determine by no precursors, when the morning of the resurrection would open upon them, because no flight could evade the terrors of that day. Of two women grinding at a mill, or two men in the field, the one should be taken and the other left. And so unavailing would be all efforts to escape, that he who should attempt to save his life, should lose it, and he that would lose it, should save it. This circumstance effectually characterizes the final coming of Christ, of which his people were forewarned, to watch and make timely and strenuous efforts to escape the perils.
I trust it will now be seen, that there is language in this
chapter which cannot be appropriately applied to anything short of the scenes of the last day. And that all the universalist conclusions, drawn from the application of the whole of chapter 24th to the scenes of Jerusalem's destruction, are unsound.
We come now to the 25th chapter. Much reliance is made on the particle "then" commencing the parable of the Ten Virgins, as a connecting link between the two chapters. But as I admit that the same general subject is continued from the last part of the 24th, into the 25th, I shall have no need to dispute it. Neither the parable of the ten virgins, nor of the unfaithful servant, need be particularly considered. The scenes of Jerusalem's destruction, could hardly be represented as a marriage festival, even to the christians. For they were even to them, scenes of consternation and flight. And much less is the parable of the servants capable of such a meaning; for where, in those scenes, was the distribution of rewards, according to what each had gained? Was the more faithful christian who had gained his five talents, able to make better speed towards the town of Pella, than he who had gained but two? And was the advantage of this flight to Pella, the glorious reward, with which the faithful in Christ's kingdom are crowned?
If we look now, at the passage directly under consideration, we shall find insuperable difficulties in applying it to Jerusalem's destruction. When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him. Mr. W. will have us understand that the holy angels, here represent the Roman armies; and justifies the interpretation by the instance of the Assyrian army, sent for the, punishment of Israel, being called God's army. But he gives us no reason why the Roman army, composed of heathen, and the enemies of christianity, should be called HOLY, his holy angels. When a man is driven to the necessity of making holy angels out of a Roman army, it is time for his opponents to lay down their pens. Is it from such holy angels as these, that the Redeemer collects the splendors of his train, when he comes to judge the world in righteousness?
Again, there was not an assembling of all nations before the throne of Christ's glory in that event, nor anything which answers to it. It was not an event which very particularly affected all nations. For this Mr. B. and Mr. W. have the same answer, i. e. that the phrase, all nations, is used twice before in this discourse, when all nations really are not meant. Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.-And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. That the apostles were hated of all nations, and that they preached the gospel to all nations, Mr. B. admits; but denies that this passage is to be understood of all individuals of all nations. But there is one consideration which he overlooks; the separation in the text is of individuals, as such, as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. And then the preaching of the gospel is the making of sheep and goats, and not the sitting in judgment on them after they are made. And then how could the results of the preaching of the gospel, even if it were called the assembling of all nations, be represented as a part or appendage to the destruction of Jerusalem? All nations to whom the gospel had been preached, according to our authors, are represented as collected to have a part in this scene, for the purpose of receiving their doom. And the one class adequately rewarded for all their piety, and the other for all their hatred of the gospel. But on what page of history stands the record of this? Mr. W. thrice repeats his own assertion, that all nations were assembled at this time, and then leaves us staring in every direction in vain, to see them so assembled. Besides, the Roman army which we have just been taught were the all of the holy angels of God, are a part of these all nations, who hated Christians, and who were assembled to be judged for so doing. This Roman army then, were both the executioners of justice, and the felons who felt its weight. In still another point, the interpretation is lame. What judgments were here inflicted upon the pagan world, for their hatred of the gospel and their murder of its preachers? History gives us no account of sufferings, sent upon them through the destruction of Jerusalem. Probably