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They were, indeed, at 'a loss as to the times and seasons of those events; and were greatly perplexed by not distinguishing the two events, of Christ's coming to suffer, and his coming in his kingdom: for though there be certain characters, whereby what belongs to the first coming of Christ, and what to the second, may be distinguished; yet, they are often so blended in the prophecies, that it should not be thought strange, that the people of God, before the death and resurrection of Christ, had not properly distinguished the time of his coming to suffer from the time of his coming to reign. But though they were at a loss for times and seasons, and were perplexed for want of distinctions; yet, the fact of the reign of Christ upon the earth they fully believed, and ever spake of it with the greatest
This belief is expressed in the request of the wife of Zebedee ; who, like a fond mother, begged of our Savior that her two sons might sit, one on his right hand, and the other on his left, when he came into his kingdom. Also, in that question of the disciples, " Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee-What shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have fol lowed me in the regeneration,* when the Son of
* This sentence, read thus-Ye which have followed me in the regeneration—is obscure and doubtful : for in the regeneration—the change from sin to holiness-Christ has not gone before us. And to interpret this regeneration, as some do, to mean water baptism, is equally absurd. The millenarians read it (which is according to the Greek) with a stop after followed me.
Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
When Christ was going up to Jerusalem the last time, his followers were in high expectation, " because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."
The expectation of the kingdom of Christ was universal among all who believed the prophets. This was Herod's fear, when he sought to slay the infant Savior. The Pharisees demanded of Christ, “ when the kingdom of God should come.” And after Christ was risen from the dead, we find the expectation of the kingdom indulged by his disciples, and very near their hearts; for when they were come together, at the place he had appointed to meet them, “they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?"
This leaves the sense, according to their sentiments, plain and easy-that, in the grand regeneration, the restitution of all things, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, they also, which have followed him, shall sit upon thrones, &c., according to Daniel vii. and Rev.
Mr. Henry, upon this place, after observing that some refer this, in the regeneration, to the time when Christ shall sit upon the throne of his glory, adds—“Christ's second coming will be a regeneration, when there shall be new heavens and a new earth, and the restitution of all things."
“So death becomes
This expectation of the kingdom of God Jesus ever cherished and confirmed. He called the meek blessed, for they shall inherit the earth ; according to the ancient promises to his people. In his sermon on the mount, the kingdom of heaven is advanced as a leading doctrine ; and to establish the faith of his people therein appears the design of most of his parables. Salome was
one whom Jesus loved ; she faithfully ministered to him, to his death, following him from Galilee; and was one of those women that bought the spices and ointments to embalm him, and that went early to the sepulchre, the resurrection morning. Had this good woman erred in her faith of the kingdom, would not Jesus have set her right? But when she spake to him for her children, he did not deny the supposition, or general ground of her request, that he was to have a kingdom; but taught her, and them, submission to the divine will; and, also, that the conditions, both to him and to them, of the honors and glories of that kingdom, were a cup and baptism, which neither he nor they had yet drunk, nor been baptized with. Yea, in that other place, where the disciples unitedly asked“ We have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore ?” with assurance of his Father's good-will, which should carry him through his sufferings, and bring him, and them with him, into his glory; he spake as already having an interest and authority there; and promised to them all the very thing which the mother of James and John requested—When the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glo
ry, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, he did not answer them, as he did the Sadducees, respecting the resurrection-Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures: he reproved them, not for advancing a wrong doctrine, but for their curiosity to know when the kingdom of God should come, whilst they rejected his gospel; which was the very spirit of that kingdom.
And also, when his disciples asked him, after his resurrection, if then he would restore the kingdom to Israel; his answer, whilst it put them off as to times and seasons, which the Father for wise ends had not then revealed, and also checked their haste and impatience, was still so far from contradicting their expectation, that it tended greatly to confirm it.
This kingdom is future.
The promises made to Abraham, Israel, and David, have never been fulfilled: of all the nations of the world, the Hebrews have had the least possession of the earth, and the least quiet settlement as a nation and kingdom.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were strangers and pilgrims in the land.
Their posterity were strangers and bondmen, four hundred years, in Egypt. Forty-five years they consumed in the wilderness and wars of Joshua.
In the time of the judges, a few years excepted, they were either harassed by wars -distressed by famines—the servants of servants—servants to the Canaanites; or, dispersed without a head or judge, every one doing what was right in his own eyes.
Then they desired a king, and Saul was given to them in anger, and taken away in wrath.
And when David came to the kingdom, it was still unsettled and harassed; first by a seven or eight years' civil war-then followed the bloody wars with the Jebusites, Philistines, Amalekites, Moabites, Ammonites, and the Syrians--then the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba-afterwards, the three years' famine on account of the massacre of the Gibeonites; and then the dreadful pestilence for numbering the people.
In the reign of Solomon, Israel had, perhaps, their best days; but they had been much better had their prince been less ambitious. The fact is, Solomon's government was oppressive, and his people were almost slaves-he made their yoke grievous. We must suppose that the kingdom promised to Israel is something better than Solomon's in all its glory.
After Solomon, the kingdom was rent asunder; which opened the most painful scenes-Ephraim envying Judah, and Judah vexing Ephraim; and the Assyrians envying and vexing both.
With short intervals of prosperity, the whole history of Israel and Judah is wars, famines, pestilences, assassinations, and massacres; until the Assyrians utterly destroyed the kingdom of Israel; and soon after, under Sennacherib, invaded Judah in the days of Hezekiah, and brought them to the greatest straits.
The following reigns of Manasseh and Ammon were remarkable for nothing but wickedness and abominations, which filled Judah ; and innocent blood, which filled Jerusalem from end to end; and a captivity into Assyria. Josiah's succeeding