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pearance of Christ in external majesty, to establish his dominion in this world—his subduing all kingdoms to himself-his raising the dead, and sitting in judgment, on Jews and Gentiles, and his completing and confirming the blessedness of the righteous, and inflicting punishment on the wicked. (Vide Wahl · on a i o n.) Their inquiry ofcourse was as to the time when the resurrection and the general judgment would take place, as well as the destruction of Jerusalem. Is it asked, why Christ in giving his answer, did not correct their mistake as to the tuking place of these events contemporaneously with Jerusalem's destruction? I answer, he did, so far as was consistent with his design not to inform the world as to the exact time of his final coming. He first, in answering the broad question, gave a description of Jerusalem's coming destruction, and then, verse 29, began his description of his coming to the final judgment, by informing them that this event would come afterwards, and not in the same connexion—" After the tribulation of those days.” And then he tells them that none knows, and it is not the design of the Father that any should know the particular day and hour of this coming. This is precisely such an answer as he gave to essentially the same question after his resurrection. When asked-Wilt thou now restore the kingdom of Israel? he answers, it is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own power. Respecting the time when the future judgment was to come, the New Testament everywhere observes a studied silence, except so far as to leave the impression, that however many years, and ages might first elapse, it would come soon, it was to be expected as no distant event. And the last thing which he
says, in the last part of the last book of the Bible, a book by the way,
which Mr. W. admits was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, is-Behold I come quickly. So we see that the disciples' question and Christ's answer covered both the destructỉon of Jerusalem and the final judgment.
The two events were connected in their minds; they inquired for the time, and for the signs of their coming; he answered them as to both, as far as he conceived it proper-giving
them particularly the signs of Jerusalem's destruction, but letting them know that the signs of his last coming, would be the coming itself,—that no sign or hint would be given till his actual appearance should burst upon an astonished world; and this to enforce the need of watchfulness. If this view be correct, no one need be stumbled to find the two events so closely blended in the description. For they were still more closely blended in the question, and expectation of the disciples.
And so far as it respects the date of each event, Christ was not called upon to give more particular information.
As he purposed that no man should know the day and the hour, he served that purpose, and yet countenanced no errors in leaving the subject just where he did. That the disciples' question comprehended Christ's coming to raise the dead, is indisputable. And it does not appear that he evaded that part of the question more than the other. And that two events so distant in time should stand so near together in prophecy, is nothing unusual, as we have already seen.
We come now to examine the description itself, to see whether the last part of the chapter refers to the final judg. ment. One proof that it does, I have already mentioned-i. e. that the description, verse 29, is of what is to take place after those days. All the leading circumstances, according as they actually occurred in Jerusalem's destruction, are enumerated in the previous verses. After there had been a tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world, and such as was never to be again, to the end of the world, it is said, “after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened,” &c. Now if what is said both before and after the 29th verse, refers to the same event, it should read, after Christ has destroyed Jerusalem, they shall see the Son of Man coming in clouds to destroy Jerusalem. Besides, all before this verse is easily, and for the most part literally applicable to Jerusalem's destruction. And all after that verse is incapable of such an application without being made extravagantly figurative. And then Luke in his report of the same discourse, gives the transition from Jerusalem's destruction to the scenes of the
last day, still more plainly. He winds completely up the story of the former, before he commences the latter, in these words,—And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fuifilled. Now what we claim to have been said of the last coming of Christ, is said after all this ;- -after the nation is scattered, and Jerusalem trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. After having told the whole story of Jerusalem's destruction, the writer goes on to say—Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud. And then this coming of Christ, last spoken of, is made a day of rejoicing to christians. And when these things shall begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your head and rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. But how was the destruction of Jerusalem a scene of rejoicing ? The temporal condition of christians in it was not improved by it. Their flight to Pella was a privilege which they might have had before if it had been worth their seeking. In the previous part of the chapter these scenes are spoken of as anything but those of a glad and glorious redemption of christians. They were commanded to notice the signs of the coming day of terror, in order to timely flight-in order to escape for their lives, and that under such circumstances as stript them of all their possessions, and so that terrible must be the condition of her with child, and her that nursed children, and of those that made their fight in the winter. But in that part of the chapter which refers to the last coming of Christ, christians are bid to lift up their heads and rejoice, as at the completion of their redemption. Can these contrary things be said of one and the same event?
But you will notice that it is said immediately after those days, that is, immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, the sun shall be darkened, as if the last coming of Christ was immediately after that event. The word translated immediately, may also mean suddenly after a considerable interval. It is 80 used in the following passage-Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, whomsoever I shall kiss, the same
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
It is repre-.
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. sented 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