Imágenes de páginas

which power, in one shape or other, has proved the great DESOLATOR both of the Jewish and Gentile Churches.

2. Another difficulty is the tribulation mentioned by St. Matthew; but as this point is of considerable importance in my view of the subject, I must beg the Reader's attention whilst I enlarge upon it. St. Matthew says, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be, &c." (v. 21.) Now this tribulation, though some are disposed to think it typical of the wrath to be poured out at the ultimate day of judgment, is generally limited to the destruction of Jerusalem; but turn to the parallel place in St. Luke and we read, that these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days, for there shall be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people; and they 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 of the Gentiles be fulfilled." In these latter words the tribulation is extended throughout the whole period of Jewish depression and Gentile domination, even down to the entire accomplishment of what is called "the times of the Gentiles;" a phrase the meaning of which I shall examine presently.

But this is not all. In Daniel xii. 1, 2, we read thus: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince, which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that slept in the dust of the earth shall awake, &c." The words "at that time" are in the first instance immediately connected with the latter exploits of the wilful king, described at verses 40-45 of the previous chapter; and with this time of trouble are likewise connected the resurrection and glorification of many who sleep in the dust.t As the majority of commentators have concurred in fixing the tribulation named in Matthew to the overthrow of Jerusalem,

* See the marginal readings of Dan. ix. 27.

† I take the opportunity of noticing here, that the explanation of this latter paragraph which most commends itself to my own mind, is to be found in an article signed Edinensis, in the Investigator, Vol. III. p. 8. The text may be thus paraphrased:-"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. These [the many raised ones] are destined to everlasting life; those [who remain in the graves] to shame and everlasting contempt." This sense is sustained by the original Hebrew; and Rabbi Saadias Gaon, an ancient Jewish Commentator, says of the passage: "This is the resurrection of the dead of Israel, whose lot is to eternal life; but THOSE who do not awake, they are the destroyed of the Lord, &c."

so have they equally agreed in considering the time of trouble in Daniel to be yet future. But there is a remarkable notification attached to each of these passages, by means of which both periods of trouble may be clearly demonstrated to be connected together. Daniel says, "There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation to that same time." Matthew also declares of the tribulation instanced by him, that it is "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time;" -and then adds-"NO, NOR EVER SHALL BE." Thus in both places the tribulation is described as unprecedented; but in Matthew it is stated besides, that the one referred to by him shall never subsequently have a parallel. How then, I ask, can the tribulation in Daniel follow that in Matthew? It might have preceded it, and that perfectly in consistence with truth; but I see not how it can come after it. Had the notifications been reversed, so that of the Jerusalem tribulation it had been said, it was such as never was since it had been a nation; and of that at the standing up of Michael, that it was to be such as was not, neither shall be,—I should experience no difficulty in reconciling the language with modern expositions: but, as it now stands in Scripture, I am compelled to reject the interpretation which would limit the tribulation of Matthew to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Another consideration here presents itself. The unprecedented character of the tribulation, spoken of by Matthew, is explained, by those who limit it to Jerusalem, to consist in the sufferings and horrors experienced at the siege; especially in regard to the circumstance, that women were led by hunger to devour their own children. I readily grant, that the history of that event is very appalling; but I greatly question if it be without a parallel. The tribulation at the former siege of Jerusalem was very similar in this respect, and therefore forbids us to say of the second siege, so far as this characteristic goes, that it was affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time." 70 Jeremiah says of the besiegement by the Chaldeans: "I will make this city desolate and a hissing; every one that passeth by shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies and they that seek their lives shall straiten them." And afterwards, in his Lamentations over the destruction of the city, he shews that these things were actually fulfilled:-"Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat • Mark xiii. 19. d Jer. xix. 8, 9.

their fruit and children of a span long?"-"The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children; they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people." Josephus informs us, that in the second siege of Babylon the inhabitants strangled all their women and children to make their provisions last. And horrible indeed have been the sufferings endured on various similar occasions; as I might easily shew from history.

Lest I should be misapprehended, I would again observe, that I consider the vengeance which the Lord poured upon Jerusalem to have been very marked and signal: but if we limit it to the mere siege and its attendant circumstances, there is nothing so remarkably transcendent in its character, as at once to give it pre-eminence over other events. A careful perusal of Deut. xxviii. 47-68 and Daniel ix. have led me to conclude, that the unparalleled character of the tribulation, whilst it includes the dreadful sufferings endured in the siege. and straitness, does more immediately respect their being led away captive into all nations, and their becoming a by-word and reproach, and suffering thus the wrath and vengeance of God for so long a period;-so long, that the Spirit saith of its conclusion, "Jerusalem hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."'f I mean not that Moses and Daniel, in the passages referred to, directly speak of this second and great captivity: for Moses (as is plain from Daniel's reference to him v. 13) primarily regards the Babylonish captivity, and the dispersion of the ten tribes which then commenced; and Daniel perhaps exclusively regards it. Yet Daniel, having dwelt at verse 7 on the circumstance of the men of Judah and Israel being scattered through all countries on account of their trespass against God,—and then having in verse 11 viewed it as a fulfilment of the curse denounced by Moses,-adds, concerning the Lord, "He hath confirmed his words which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil; for UNDER THE WHOLE HEAVEN HATH NOT BEEN DONE as hath been done upon Jerusalem." This it was which constituted its unprecedented character:—not the signal vengeance inflicted in the siege only, but the accumulation of plagues and sufferings to be endured through a tedious and miserable dispersion.

I have still to harmonize Daniel and Matthew. This I think may be done, in perfect accordance with the context of the Scriptures, by considering the tribulation to commence with the signal vengeance on Jerusalem and the Jews then living; to continue, according to St. Luke, "until the times of the Gene Lam. ii. 20; iv. 10.

f Isa. xl. 2.

[ocr errors]

tiles be fulfilled;" and to terminate with that marked period of distress, called by Daniel "the last end of the indignation," and by Jeremiah the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it! This termination of the period (which shall be more especially disastrous to the Gentiles, as marking their overthrow, but out of which the Jews shall be delivered,) is I believe symbolized by the signs described in verse 29 of Matthew xxiv. and verses 25, 26 of Luke xxi.; for which I shall give my reasons in their proper place. St. Matthew indeed says,-"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened;" but this I apprehend is not intended to denote a distinct tribulation, but only the climax of it; being the termination of those days of vengeance and captivity to the Jews, "the end whereof is with a flood."i This will be further evident from the parallel place in Mark's Gospel, which says-"But IN those days, after that tribulation"—thus intimating, that the days of the tribulation, though drawn to their close, are not absolutely passed away. It is the last act, yea the last scene, of the drama, in which occurs the grand catastrophe of the whole. Probably Rev. xvi. 18, which describes an "earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great," has that notification of its unparalleled character inserted, in order to enable the studious inquirer to connect it with other passages in which similar notices occur.*

3. I would next offer a few observations on the phrase "times of the Gentiles" in Luke xxi. 24, which may throw further light on the succeeding exposition.

Various significations are attached to the word time or times, when spoken of a kingdom, which must be determined by the words connected with either expression; and even the same word may have opposite meanings, according to the context; as in the phrase "time of visitation," which signifies in one place a visitation of wrath, in another a visitation of mercy.k But when the fulfilment of a time is spoken of, the immediate reference is commonly, not to the character of the time or period which has been fulfilling, but to that immediately succeeding; in which case it answers rather to our phrase, "the time is come." Thus in Mark i. 15-"the time is fulfilled and

h Jer. xxx. 7.

i Dan. ix. 26.

g Dan. viii. 19. There are passages which seem to mark an incipient fulfilment of the time of trouble; and which consequently corroborate the view I have taken, that the tribulation commences with the Jews' captivity, continues throughout their dispersion, and is completed only at their deliverance. Such is the 8th verse of this chapter of Matthew;-These are the beginning of sorrows." Such also is Luke xxiii. 30;—Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us;" an imprecation which (according to Rev. vi. 16) will be repeated at the consummation of the period.

j Jer. xi. 23.

Compare Luke vii. 16 and xix. 44.

the kingdom of God is at hand,”—the attention is directed to the Gospel dispensation about to be introduced; whilst the legal dispensation, which was the period just fulfilled, is only obliquely referred to. So in Luke i. 57, in the words "Elizabeth's full time came that she should be delivered," the time of deliverance is principally regarded, though the time completed must be that of gravidation. And thus, reasoning by analogy, I take the fulfilment of the times of the Gentiles to be the time of deliverance to the Jews; which is plainly implied by the expression, "Jerusalem shall be trodden under foot till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." And this time of deliverance itself, forasmuch as it also (as we have seen) is to be in a time of trouble, is compared in Jeremiah xxx. 6, 7, already quoted, to the time of travail. The times fulfilled must necessarily be the ages of affliction and oppression they will have passed through; and by an obvious contrast, as regards the Gentiles, whose times they are called, they are the period of their domination.


We may perhaps get a further clew to the meaning of this expression by an example or two of the use made of it in respect to others. Of the king of Babylon the Lord says, "All nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then-many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him."b The words "time of his land come" are here equivalent to the fulfilment of his time, during which he was to have the empire over the nations; and then the scene was to be reversed, and they were to "serve themselves of him." In Ezekiel xxx. Egypt is specially threatened with this period of Babylonish tyranny, and it is called "the time of the heathen" or Gentiles. That this signifies the time, in which heathen Babylon with her vassal nations should domineer over others, appears from the parallel place in chap. xxix. 12: for there Egypt is threatened with a desolation for forty years, during which she is to be "scattered among the Gentiles;" () goim, which exactly answers to the dispersion of the Jews during the Gentile times. I will conclude this point by once more quoting that passage, already twice partially appealed to, viz. Jeremiah xxx. 6-9: "Ask ye now and see, whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces turned into paleness?-Alas! for that day is great, so that there is none like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve Compare verses 3 and 26.

1 Jer. xxvii. 7.


« AnteriorContinuar »