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ning”) “when shall these things be 2 and what Shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world 2* The blessed Jesus, having in the preceding chapter, (xxiii) administered the severest reproofs to the carnal and unbelieving Scribes and Pharisees, closes it with his memorable lamentation over them, in view of that terrific doom at that moment suspended over their guilty heads, as by a hair. At the opening of the twenty-fourth chapter, our blessed Lord, having left the Temple, meets his disciples, who proffer to him their services to show him all the magnificent buildings of the holy city. ' Immediately thereupon Christ proceeds to utter a declaration of their destined des. truction. “ Verily, I say unto you, there shall not be left here (of all the buildings of the Temple) one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”” These are the “things” more immediately comprehended in the interrogation of the disciples to Christ, regarding the time of their fulfillment; but included also his declaration of his Second Advent, as contained in the last verse of the preceding chapter, “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometH (“6 gezouevos that is about to come,”)” in the name of the Lord;” which has an undoubted reference to the following prediction of Hosea, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and
1. Matt. xxiv., 1. 2. Matt. xxiv., 2. 3: Ramsy's Second Coming, p. 96.
without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an Ephod, and without teraphim ; afterwards, shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king : and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.” Hence they add, “and what shall be the sIGN of thy coming 3"
But we must here observe, that the disciples “could not conceive” that the above predicted ruin of their temple “would ever take place, except with the ruin of the world,” ” which they considered (and rightly, too,) would be simultaneous with, because consequent upon, his coming. Hence the reason why “the sign,” spoken of as an object of special inquiry, was considered by them as a sufficient prelude of both events.
“In answer, and by way of giving them to understand that much was yet to happen before his coming, or the end of the world,”’ the Redeemer proceeds to utter the very elaborate prediction contained in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of St. Matthew's gospel, which, by the way, we here remark, are to be taken together; the twenty-fifth chapter being but a continuation of the twenty-fourth ; the following synopsis of which it will be of use here to insert. - 4.
1. Hosea iii., 4, 5. 2. Hare's Christ to Return, p. 46. 3. Hare, Ibid.
4. This synopsis of the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of . St. Matthew's Gospel, I have taken the liberty to transfer to my pages entire, from the very judicious and well-timed exposition of the prophecy contained in them, by the Rev. G. Ember Hare, Rector of Trinity Church, Princeton, N.J., in his recent work, entitled, “CHRIST to RETURN,” a work which I would recommend to all who love and look for “the speedy appearing of Christ with his saints.” I rely on the indulgence of that Rev. Gentleman for the liberty taken in italicising some portions of the above “synopsis,” and also for the addition of the numerals, references to verses, &c., embraced in brackets,
“To preserve his disciples from mistaking for “signs” of his coming, and of the end of the world,” occurrences which must be before the end came, the Savior begins by naming some of these occurrences, viz.: I. The rise of adventurers who would claim to be the Christ, and might be mistaken for Jesus of Nazarath re-appearing. [verses 4 and 5 of chap. xxiv.] II. Outbreaks in nature, and among nations. [verses 6 — 8.] III. Trials to the Church. [verses 9–13.] IV. The announcement of the gospel to all nations. [verse 14.] W. Destruction to the holy city. [verses 15–28.] WI. Prolonged disaster and desolation to the holy land. [verse 29, Luke xxi. 25–26.] (after which,) WII. The Savior proceeds, by declaring that “the sIGN of his coming, and of the end of the world,” — “the sign of the Son of Man,” — may be looked for when the occurrences just mentioned shall all have come to pass, and not before, [verses 30–31.] (He then) applies the doctrine he had taught concerning “things which must be before the end comes.” [verses 32, 33.] — Predicts that the seed or generation he addresses shall survive all these things. [verses 34,35.]— Declares his return will take men by surprise. [verses 36–39.] — Predicts a rending of the most intimate
relations. [vereses 40, 41.] — (And,) compares his disciples, 1. To a man whose house was to suffer attack. [verses 42—44.] 2. To a head servant. [verses 45–51.] 3. To ten virgins. [chap. xxv., 1–13] 4. To dependants trusted with capital. [vrs. 14–30.] The Savior concludes by depicting the scene to take place at his return. [verses 31–46.] In view, therefore, (as we now come to ask,) of the interesting occurrences which, according to the above prediction of Christ, were to take place between the destruction of Jerusalem and the second advent of Christ, together with the end of the world, or present constitution of things: — rather in view of all the dispensations of God to our world, from the creation of man to the final restitution of all things; as the constantly recurring interrogatian of the primitive disciples to their Divine master, whether we will or not, forces itself upon our attention, with an accelerated power proportionate to our convictions, defined or undefined, of the tendency of all things to a CRISIs: we come, I say, to ask, shall we attempt to fix upon THE point of time in round numbers, upon which we now stand, in the successive evolutions of God's dispensations to man 7 At such an attempt, we have said, many “who prosess and call themselves Christians,” are shocked. Such an undertaking is denounced as presumptuous. even though we aim at but a tolerable degree of certainty in these premises. There is an evident popular reluctance, as well on the part of professors of religion, as of the mere worldling, to scan this subject. Nor, considering the circumstances which originate a large proportion of the prevailing disinclination to rely, with any confidence, on deductions of historic and prophetic chronology, can we profess much astonishment. Of these circumstances, as deserving a passing remark, is, I. The ABUSE of the subject, consequent of the prevailing fanaticism which has accompanied it. We are reminded of a statement in Mossheim's Ecclesiastical History, that in the tenth century the priests and monks of the Latin Church openly taught to the people the immediate approach of the day of judgement, on the ground that the one thousand years millennial rest of the church, spoken of in the Revelations, had then expired ; and that, spreading itself with amazing rapidity throughout the European provinces, it produced among the people the deepest anguish, consternation, and dismay. But, besides omitting to advert to the thick and gloomy mantle of superstition which at that time covered the whole of Christendom; themotive of the evidentdeep laid scheme of the mercenary priesthood who originated the delusion, is also passed over in silence. What, however, were the facts Simply these — while under this delusion, prodigious numbers of the people flew with the utmost precipitancy to Palestine, as the place destined for the re-appearance of Christ, as the judge of men, the sacerdotal and monastic orders remained quietly at home; on the one hand, to seize upon the luxuriant