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though these words are spoken by the angel on occasion of his incarnation, yet are they not intended adequately to set forth that state, but rather antithetically extended to carry the mind of Mary far beyond; as thus: "That though this Jesus shall be
conceived in thy womb, who art a mean woman; yet this Jesus "shall be no mean person, but shall be great, and shall be called "the Son of the Highest, and shall have the throne of his father "David, and shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, &c." Nor was the period of his incarnation the time even of the full revelation of these things; but when the apostles, taking hint from these words of the angel and the like places of Scripture, asked our Saviour a little before he ascended, "Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel;"x he denied not the thing, but the revelation of it that time, saying (verse 7,) " It is not for you, (viz. not now,) to know the times, or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.' But about seventy years after his ascension, God gave the full revelation of it to Christ, to show it by an angel unto John, who might write it to the churches.y
3. Further, at Christ's first coming, he was not in the throne of his father David: he was in the manger, in the mountains, more destitute than the birds and foxes ;-he was in a crown of thorns, in garments of scorn, on the cross, in the grave, but never in the throne of David. Yea, when it was offered unto Christ to be made a king, and to divide the portions between the brethren, he refused it.
4. The beginning of that kingdom of Christ which shall be for ever, (i. e. after which no kingdom on earth succeeds; as often hath been expounded,) was not yet begun. For after Christ's ascension, from that day to this, other kingdoms on earth over the Jews succeeded; viz. the Romans, Saracens, and Turks. We have already given unanswerable reasons, why the mere spiritual kingdom of Christ cannot be here understood, when we parallelled this place with Isa. ix, 7; and the reason is at hand, why this kingdom cannot be in heaven at the ultimate end of the world; viz. because then " Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, &c."
LUKE xxi, 24.
"And they (the Jews) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall "be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times, (kalpoɩ, op"portunities) of the Gentiles be (Tλnpwowσi) filled up."
1. Observe first, that our Saviour, speaking of the two tribes, that had been now returned from Babylon above five hundred years, says, "that they shall be led away captive in all nations;" which must of necessity mean another, and a more dispersing captivity and doubtless it is that which was begun by Titus, son of Vespasian, and continued to the present day. Therefore the deliverance of the Jews, which is to follow this scattering, (intimated in the word " until,") is not yet fulfilled; and till then the glorious state of the Church on earth, to be made up of Jews and Gentiles, cannot exist, as we have repeatedly noticed out of the prophets.
2. Observe next, that the Jews must continue thus "scattered into all nations, until the opportunities or seasons of the Gentiles be filled up, or completely made up; which was not done in Paul's time, since it is there added, "when the fulness of the "Gentiles shall come in, all Israel shall be saved by a deliverer "that shall come out of Sion, turning away ungodliness from Ja"cob, according to covenant." And as this is no opportune business for the ultimate judgement, so it hath not had its opportunity hitherto to be fulfilled upon earth; as is now apparent in the non-conversion of the Jews, and the non-preaching of the Gospel to all nations of the Gentiles, before discussed.
3. Observe lastly, that this " trampling of Jerusalem by the Gentiles" is computed by the Holy Ghosta to continue 42 months, or 1260 days, (that is, years,) to commence from the time that Antichrist should have that same εξουσια ποιησαι (as some copies read it ;) i.e. power or authority to do, or act as Antichrist-as Antichrist grown up to act. Or, eέovoia пoinσar поλεμov (as other copies read) that is, power or authority to make Now if we take the former account; viz. from his power to act or do; this cannot well commence higher than from the
z Rom. xi, 25, 26.
a Rev. xi, 2, 3.
removing of him that "withheld and letted" the revealing of Antichrist;bi.e. the laying low of the Roman Emperor, A. D. 410, by Alaric king of the Goths taking and spoiling Rome, and exposing her by this weakening to future depredations by the Vandals, &c. And therefore the most learned Elias Reusnerus boldly takes from thence the beginning of the computation; in which case they are not expired till the year 1670. If we take the latter account, (viz. from the power of Antichrist to make war,) and fix the beginning thereof with Pope Hildebrand, alias Gregory the seventh, who was the first (saith Helvicus) “that "excommunicated the emperor, and arrogated to himself the "power of appointing and setting up the emperor, enfolding (as Reusner carries on the story) the Roman Empire in all manner of seditions and civil wars, &c." then it will be far longer ere the 1260 years will be run out. For the said Hildebrand did not so ruffle in his power, till about the year of Christ 1070; to which if we add 1260, we make up a far larger reckoning than the former, and so much farther from fulfilling ; whereas our context affirms, (v. 28,) that when that time of trampling shall be fulfilled, the Jews' redemption draweth nigh.
LUKE Xxii, 28-30.
"Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
In the first place let us not forget that ancient rule,—we are not to depart from the letter, or proper sense of the Scripture, unless some evident necessity compel, and the truth of the Scripture seem to be endangered. Now there is no such necessity lies upon this text, to recede from the literal sense thereof; whilst, on the other hand, there is a great importunity, if not necessity, incumbent on this Scripture, to understand it generally, according to the letter; for the following reasons.
1. Therein is promised, as a peculiar reward to them that had endured temptations with and for Christ, that he hath ap
b 2 Thess. ii, 6, 7, 8.
pointed to them a kingdom;"—yea, HIS kingdom, (v. 30,) with which, let the studious Reader diligently compare Rev. xi, 18; xx, 4. These temptations (or tribulations) all converts, that live to profess their godliness in life and conversation, do more or less undergo on earth;c and therefore it is here promised that they shall be rewarded on earth. If however there be no such estate to be fulfilled upon earth, but only a state of glory in the supremest heaven, then all the elect dying in their infancy (to whom also the kingdom of heaven belongs,d) who never endured any temptations, &c. shall have as much privilege, as those that have endured most and longest in temptations: which seems contrary to the text.
2. Christ appoints unto them a kingdom, "as his Father appointed unto him a kingdom :" but the Father appointed unto Christ no kingdom in ultimate glory, in the supremest heavens, (which, as on all hands it is agreed, follows the ultimate judgement,) for then Christ lays down his rule. And it is most improper to say, that the members (the saints) reign, when the head doth not reign. Besides, reigning in a kingdom implies, that some are subjects to them in that kingdom, being brought under subjection to them; but in the highest heaven there is nothing made subject to them. If the angels' ministration be not at an end when the Church is perfected in glory, yet they are said only to be servants for the Church, and not subject under the Church, at their command; being subject under Christ alone. But if Christ, according to 1 Cor. xv, 24, 28, doth then lay down all his power and authority, we cannot understand how the service of angels should be thence-forward continued; but in the glorious estate on earth the saints have all the creatures, and men that truly believe not, subject to them. As for the spiritual kingdom of Christ, believers were in that in all past ages, and therefore that could not be the meaning of this promise. Besides, the spiritual kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of PATIENCE, (as St. John often intimates,) where the saints endure those very temptations Christ mentions; and therefore it cannot signify the kingdom which Christ promises as a reward of that patience.
c Acts xiv, 22. d Mark x, 14. e 1 Cor. xv, 24, 28. f Heb. i, 6, 13, 14.
3. Eating and drinking are unsuitable expressions to signify supernal, eternal, ultimate glory, but very suitable to express Christ's glorious kingdom on earth yet to come; as we shall presently show.
4. By the order of the words the saints must first be in the kingdom, and then sit on thrones and judge the tribes of Israel. But in the spiritual kingdom of Christ they had not so done; nor doth Christ's speech relate to past, but future.
ACTS i, 6, 7.
"When they were come together they asked of him, saying, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to "Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know (or "as it is in the Greek, it is not of you to know) the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."
1. Though Christ's spiritual kingdom, in the height of it by John, and by Christ's own ministry, had now been in being four years past before the putting of the question in the text; yet the apostles expected another kingdom, in which also Israel should be restored, and have the authority.
2. Note further, that Christ doth not deny the thing, but only the time of manifesting of it; (even as he speaks in the present tense, it is not,—not it shall not;) and therefore the apostles then present, were not by this beaten off from expecting it, but rather went on preaching it. Yea, in process of time, Christ did fully reveal to John the Apostle the thing and the time thereof.
3. Lastly, if Christ had here meant either his spiritual kingdom, or the kingdom of ultimate glory, he would not have been shy to declare those unto them; having been always free to preach and manifest them to all his disciples.h
ROMANS Xi, 25-27.
"For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this
mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceit ;) that "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of
g Acts iii, 21; 2 Pet. iii. h See John xiv-xvii. and elsewhere.